the filibuster until it’s used against you
By Alex Sator
Slackers who never even heard of filibusters before this
year, now consider themselves experts on the subject. They
cry because desperate Democrats are using delay tactics to
deprive their President of his God-given right to name whomever
he chooses to the federal bench.
The truth is that Congress has done an unparalleled job in
filling judicial vacancies. Going into last week, 124 Bush
appointees had been confirmed and only two have been delayed
due to filibuster. According to Article II, Section 2 of the
U.S. Constitution, the Senate not only has the right, but
also has the responsibility to second-guess the President
on judicial appointments through the “advice and consent”
The president is upset because the two filibustered candidates
are his friends and long-term allies -- Miguel Estrada, because
he “hit the trifecta” by being a lawyer, conservative and
Hispanic, is considered a candidate to replace Chief Justice
Rehnquist when he retires, and Pricilla Owen, who was both
a business and political associate of the president back in
Texas. The most damning analysis of her judicial acumen comes
from one Alberto Gonzalez. Gonzalez was a justice on the Texas
Supreme Court along with Owen and he is currently the presidential
consigliere. When this man says that Owen was too political
to be on the Supreme Court, and he has, then we should probably
No president has the right to place his cronies on the federal
bench to do his bidding without the input of the Senate. Sometimes
a filibuster is an example of good government in action.
Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
would love to change Senate Rule XXII by implementing a sliding
scale for cloture votes. These votes cut off debate on the
Senate floor, and the new rule would limit the minority party’s
ability to filibuster the most extreme whims of the majority.
Of course, all the Senate leadership would have to do is conduct
cloture vote after cloture vote in order to end debate. It
would eliminate the filibuster as we have come to know it.
Hatch claims that no federal judicial nominee has ever been
filibustered, but he is wrong. President Johnson’s 1968 Supreme
Court nominee, Abe Fortas, was the victim of a GOP filibuster.
Over 50 Clinton nominees were denied a vote on the Senate
floor and many didn’t even get a hearing. How is that any
Rush Limbaugh frowns on revisionist history. Yet, he has
been blaming the historical use of filibusters mostly on the
Democrats. He makes the case that blacks are fools for voting
as a block for liberals, as their best friend has been the
GOP. “The idea that the Democrats are responsible for the
Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Limbaugh whines, “is a myth that
has been given life by the Democrats and the media for 36
It is true that 18 southern conservative Democrats helped
filibuster the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But, if northern
liberal Republicans were inclined to pass this act then the
votes of 18 Dixiecrats wouldn’t have been enough to stop them,
even though the GOP was the minority party. A large block
of Republicans voted for unlimited debate. Only after the
legislation was compromised did it become law, and by 1968
they were recruiting those same Dixiecrats to be a part of
Nixon’s southern coalition. 40 years later, the liberal wing
of the GOP is dead.
There was much historical momentum behind this legislation.
Pres. Kennedy’s Justice Department, headed by his brother
Bobby, made enemies by pushing hard for racial equality. Also,
the notoriously liberal Warren Court made several landmark
civil rights rulings.
How could Limbaugh have missed Goldwater’s opposition to
the Civil Rights Act in 1964? Reagan, fought the 1982 renewal
of the Voting Rights Act. After inventing Willie Horton, Bush
vetoed the 1990 renewal of the Civil Rights Act. The GOP opposed
welfare mothers, affirmative action, Martin Luther King Day,
and the Anti-Apartheid Act. Bob Dole even filibustered the
Motor Voter Act.
Republicans still argue of behalf of the Confederate Flag,
and last year the Ohio GOP debated for weeks as to whether
the 14th Amendment (equal protection of the law) should be
ratified or not! How oblivious do they think African-Americans
are anyway? Do you think anyone has noticed that there are
no black Republicans in Congress?
It is amazing that conservatives would turn their back on
a tool that has served them so well, and it is sad that Democrats
now need that same tool in order to function. The GOP loved
the filibuster, but now that it is being used against them
they are appalled by it.
Democrats didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, and we will
fight any changes in Senate Rule XXII, as well as any resulting