Jeff laments the fact that a compromise used to be a good thing. My response has always been, “It depends on the particular compromise.” The Senatorial filibuster agreement, made without the consent of the Republican or–and please correct me if I’m wrong–the Democratic Senate leadership, is not the sort of compromise one would find virtuous. Today’s OpinionJournal shows why:
This ballyhooed “compromise” is all about saving the Senators themselves, not the Constitution. Its main point is to shield the group of 14 from the consequences of having to cast difficult, public votes in a filibuster showdown. Thus they split the baby on the most pressing nominees, giving three of them a vote while rejecting two others on what seem to be entirely arbitrary grounds, so Members of both parties can claim victory. Far better to cashier nominees as a bipartisan phalanx, rather than face up to their individual “advice and consent” responsibilities.
And it’s cynicism squared in the case of the three nominees who will now finally be confirmed. Yesterday, 81 Senators voted to give Priscilla Owen a vote on the floor, after four years of Democratic filibusters. Apparently she isn’t such a grave “extremist” threat after all. The same also applies to Janice Rogers Brown (22 months in the dock) and Bill Pryor (25 months). Monday’s deal exposes the long Democratic campaign against them as “extremists” as nothing more than a political sop to People for the American Way and their ilk.
But there is a cynical irony here, too. To defeat a Supreme Court nominee, liberal interest groups will now be obliged to manufacture the very “extraordinary circumstances” that would give Democrats among the Gang of 14 an excuse to filibuster. Thus they will have even greater incentive than before to dig through a nominee’s personal and professional life for any mud they can throw against him. In the name of consensus and comity, in short, these 14 “moderates” have increased the chances that the Senate will witness a future, bloody Borking.
If anyone thinks this filibuster-busting “agreement” is going to grease the skids for judicial nominees beyond the next few months, they are living in a fantasy world.