Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Saturday | February 22, 2003

Why the Estrada filibuster is so important

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne gives perhaps the best assessment why the Estrada battle is so imporant.

Consider these statistics, gathered by the Democratic staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee. There are 13 circuits: 11 regional plus the D.C. Circuit and the federal court that handles specialized cases. If all of Clinton's nominees had been approved, the circuits would have been evenly balanced in partisan terms by the time he left office. Six would have had majorities appointed by Democratic presidents, six by Republicans, and one would have been evenly split.

But if Bush succeeds in filling every open seat, some of them vacant because Clinton nominees were blocked, 11 of the 13 circuits will have Republican-appointed majorities. In eight of the 13, Republican nominees would have majorities of 2 to 1 or more. Is that a formula for careful, balanced decision-making?

Dionne makes one important point -- the Dems opposition to Bush's Right Wing judician cabal has to move beyond Estrada:
But the Democrats will not win this argument if they just focus their opposition on individual nominees. The point of filibusters should be to seek a solution involving consultation across party lines. The goal would be moderate judges that both sides could agree on or, failing that, balanced slates of judges who could guard the country against a judiciary utterly dominated by one party.
And now is the perfect time for Democrats to mount a major obstructionist campaign against Bush's most reactionary appointees. With the nation's attention focused on war with Iraq, there is little political downside to such a campaign. Sure, GOP activists will take note and express shock and outrage -- but they wouldn't vote for Democrats anyway. And given the GOP's hardball tactics against many of Clinton's nominees, it's fairly obvious that hardball judicial tactics don't resonate with the average voters (otherwise, Democrats would be firmly in charge).

This is an issue that requires Democrats to be Democrats, protecting the nation from a judiciary hostile to traditional progressive issues -- and willing to use its power to protect its ideological mates in the executive branch from such quaint niceties as "the will of the people" and "the public's right to know" (e.g., Gore v. Bush, GAO v. Cheney).

Posted February 22, 2003 09:19 AM | Comments (23)


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