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What Would People Think?

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Deal and the Danger

Well, the moderates of both parties have reached a compromise avoiding a showdown in the Senate. For an optimistic, in-depth analysis of the deal, click here.

I suppose it's a good sign that Pharisees like James Dobson are angry, and that groups like the People for the American Way are cautiously optimistic.

On the plus side, the deal expressly rejects Frist's interpretation of the Constitution as outlawing the filibuster.

But I'm deeply concerned. The fine print scares me. The deal only allows for filibusters under "extraordinary circumstances." Yes, that is interpreted by each individual senator. But already at least one Republican is saying they back out on the deal if they think a filibuster is being done under less-than-extraordinary circumstances.

The problem is that the standard for "extraordinary" is being set incredibly high because the nominees that are now being allowed a vote are the most extreme of the bunch: William Pryor, Priscilla Owen, and Janice Rogers Brown, all proponents to some extent of the dangerous Constitution in Exile philosophy.....which would reinstate pre-New Deal jurisprudence and strike down the federal minimum wage, workplace safety laws, environmental protection laws and - if taken to its logical extreme - the Civil Rights Act.

If radicals such as Brown don't count as an "extraordinary circumstance"...what does? If Brown is the standard, then nothing is an extraordinary circumstance.

The aftermath of this bargain remains to be seen and there is some consensus in the blogosphere that Frist and the right-wing Republicans lost, but I'm afraid this compromise is meaningless or even a Pyrrhic victory.


  • Interesting reference to Dobson as a Pharisee - I could never see him as partaking in the argumentative style that led to rabbinic Judaism. That word must mean something completely different to Christians.

    Anyway, I agree that the deal is tenuous at best. Of course, the actual confirmation votes are still to come, and if Dems can convince six moderate Republicans that Brown and Pryor are not qualified, this whole thing could get really interesting. (Owen, the least threatening of the three, has been confirmed already.)

    By Blogger Jeff, at 5/25/2005 4:10 PM  

  • Hmmmm, yeah to me "Pharisee" has always been synonymous with "self-righteous hypocrite who elevates the FORM of religion and religious rules over the true MEANING of faith...and love." This comes from the New Testament portrayal of the Pharisees who opposed Jesus. The Pharisees in general (with a few exceptions like Nicodemus) (sp?) don't come off looking too good in Jesus's parables.

    I sincerely doubt the Dems will convince the Republicans to change. First off, the moderate Republicans have already put their political futures in the Republican party on the line with this compromise. Dobson and company HATE them with a passion and are already threatening retribution. You can bet the moderate Repubs don't want to tick them off more. Second, the moderate Repubs likely did this compromise more for the sake of the Senate as an institution than because they disliked any of the judges at issue. Owen's already through and soon so will Pryor and (shudder) Brown. That's the price the moderate Dems were willing to pay to ward off the nuclear option, for now.

    Really the full effect of this deal remains to be seen. It could be delaying the inevitable. It could be a boost for Dems, who will be able to get more people to pay attention and agree with them during a Supreme Court nomination. It could be a bost for Repubs who will say this limits future Democratic use of the filibuster. We'll see.

    By Blogger Ben, at 5/25/2005 4:28 PM  

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