Filibuster Battle

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You may have noticed that I haven't been talking about the filibuster issue in the Senate very much, and not at all recently. That's not mainly because I have no view on whether the filibuster should be used as the Democrats have been using it, or because I have no view on whether the filibuster should be gotten rid of. I think the answer is no to both issues. It's also got nothing to do with the judges whose records I've had some exposure to, all of whom seem to me to be stellar nominees. The only thing the Democrats have against them is that they're pretty standardly conservative, which is no reason to oppose a judge. Ideological differences within the mainstream of American thought do not count as a reason not to confirm someone, not matter how many times you protest vehemently that the person is out of the mainstream.

Of course to a Democrat a conservative will seem out of the mainstream, but these are the same people who were completely shocked that George W. Bush increased his support in 2004 almost across the board. It's one thing to be digusted that people would support him. It's quite another not to know that half the country supports him. The mainstream of political discourse includes people who favor views like those of Pricilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, and Charles Pickering, for good or ill. The claims of Schumer and company that these judges are way out of the mainstream are simply false. They're way out of the mainstream of a largely Clinton-appointed judiciary, but most of those people are out of the mainstream of what a largely-Bush-appointed judiciary might look like in four years. That kind of being out of the mainstream counts for little. The current mainsteam in the judiciary is itself out of the mainstream, as the backlash against the judiciary over gay marriage in the 2004 election demonstrated.

What makes me not want to pay attention to this has nothing to do with those issues. It's simply because the people involved all seem to have short memories of their own actions ten years ago. Democrats like to pretend that the Republicans are the ones being inconsistent with their past statements but that Democrats are fine. Republicans say the same thing but reverse the roles. Ed Brayton of In the Agora gives some actual quotes. I do think the Republicans have something to say in that the use of the filibuster has gotten way out of hand, and I do think the Democrats have something to say in that the filibuster is a long-standing tradition that ought to be tampered with only with great caution (of course that long-standing tradition was that the filibuster be used only for the most controversial legislation, i.e. something once every decade or so). As the above-linked post notes, it's not that the charges made by both sides are false. It's that they're both true. They've each shown that the other side has been acting dishonestly and in a way inconsistent with just governance. What they're saying negatively is largely true (though often overstated), and what they're saying positively is pretty much false on both counts.

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