What’s a filibuster good for?
Senate Republicans are bent out of shape at the Democrats’ use of a filibuster to block the worst of Bush’s judicial nominees. They actually want to change the rules of Senate debate to get their way.
I remember similar blockage on Clinton’s nominees, but never mind that. The important thing is, they could stop this filibuster with only a three-fifths majority. Any nominee capable of bipartisan support could sail right on to a vote, and probably pass. But these nominees are so obviously partisan they can’t get a single Democrat’s nod.
I’d feel pretty good about a judge who got votes from both sides of the aisle.
Same thing with line-item veto. Everyone knows that spending lines are tacked onto “must-pass” legislation that have nothing to do with the primary purpose of the bill. Fine; I have no problem with that. A presidential line-item-veto holds those dubious items up to a higher standard that requires a supermajority (enough to strike down a presidential veto) to pass.
There’s the principle: dubious things should require a higher standard.
Now on to the campaign to break the filibuster. The Republicans claim that the Democrats are “trying to keep people of faith out of the judiciary.” This is nonsense of course but it makes good press. There are lots of people of faith in the judiciary, nominated by Democrats and passed with bipartisan support.
The Republicans appear to want “people-of-faith- who-agree-with-us- on-every-hot-button-issue.” Well that’s a very different goal, and quite unhealthy from a constitutional perspective.
It doesn’t speak well for the credulity of religious voters that they don’t see how shamelessly they’re being maniupulated for political gain. The bible has something like a dozen verses about homosexuality, and over two thousand about helping the poor. Drunkenness is clearly condemned in the Bible, yet no one proposes making alcohol illegal because we dun’ tried that and it worked about as well as the war on marijuana. The first four commandments are clearly sectarian and have no place in American law. Abortion was common during biblical times, yet is never directly mentioned in the Bible. There are even fake quotes from Thomas Jefferson and George Washington floating around that try to make them look like they wanted a Christian government. It should raise serious concern when someone tries to (literally!) re-write history.
What’s an activist judge? Pretty much any judge who does something you don’t like. But often the judges (who are in a more secure position that any politician and thus more independent) are our only hope of anchor against the winds of political fashion.