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Tuesday, May 26, 2009



Dr. Blanchard:

Looking back at the history of the filibuster, it would be hard to argue that it has only been used in cases of emergency. The most recent use of the technique that I can recall, was the democrats' filibuster of President Bush's judicial nominees.

If the Democrats were not allowed to use such methods, or if they simply chose not to, I might agree with your statement. But Republicans play nice too often and we can't afford to. If Democrats can use such methods any time they please, while Republicans, out of civility, refuse to, there will be no real opposition, which means no political balance. That can be dangerous, especially if you're right that Obama leans toward the radical end of the left (at least on judicial issues).

P. Chirry

And don't forget Bork.



The Democrats did briefly filibuster the Alito and Roberts nominations. The Republicans came very close to deploying the "nuclear option," i.e., restricting the filibuster in the case of judicial nominations. The crisis was averted by John McCain and his "Gang of Fourteen." I thought at the time that McCain had outmaneuvered the Democrats, and it turns out I was right. We got two very strong conservative justices on the Court. Had the Republicans gone nuclear, they would be in an even weaker position now than they are.

I am all for hardball when it has some chance of success. Right now the Republicans have almost no chance of mounting a filibuster. Also, hard as it may be, one has to think of the good of the Republic. If each side filibusters any nominee who holds objectionable positions on constitutional questions, then the nomination process grinds to a halt. No one could win nomination except those about whom nothing is known. The filibuster is appropriate only in the most extreme cases. The fact that the Democrats have abused it doesn't mean the Republicans should imitate them. In less than extreme case, hard as it may be, the President probably ought to get the appointments he wants.

What the Republicans should do now is be very, very polite, but force Justice Sotomayor to spell out her positions on all the controversial questions. Right now, neither abortion nor affirmative action are popular. Then let every Republican Senator decide for himself or herself how to vote. It is not an ideal situation, but that is the consequences of losing elections.

P. Chirry: I haven't forgotten Bork. What was done to him was unconscionable. But it wasn't a filibuster. He got his vote and lost it. That was a result of unbridled dishonesty on the part of the Left, and incompetence and lack of courage on the part of the White House.


I agree that if a filibuster has no chance of success, then civility is generally a better option. I also agree that Republicans ought not to do everything Democrats do. But I wonder what constitutes an emergency. For Strom Thurmond in 1957, it was civil rights legislation. Surely, if fighting against rights for minorities is emergency enough for a filibuster, fighting for the right to life should be.

Those of us who are pro-life know very well what a radical leftist on the court will do to that fight. We aren't the only ones who have to worry. One has only to look at the court's decision on Eminent Domain to understand what a leftist court thinks about liberty.

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