November 18, 2009

Why Should the GOP Unilaterally Disarm in the Fight Over Judicial Nominees

There has been a lot in the media about the Republican flip-flop over the use of the filibuster in relation to judicial nominees. Dana Milbank's WaPo piece today pretty well sums up the charge. My question is why should the GOP unilaterally disarm themselves? The Democrats certainly did not feel the need to limit their options during the Bush Administration, going so far as to oppose Miguel Estrada solely because he was Hispanic. The media was a lot less concerned then about the pace of nominations or the use of parliamentary tactics to stall. Does anyone honestly believe that it will have any effect on the Democrats next time they are out of power if the GOP sticks with principles and leads by example? Yeah, me neither. I agree with Jonathan Adler who writes:
The strongest argument in favor of a filibuster is that Republican Senators are unwilling to engage in unilateral disarmament in fights over judicial nominations. Under this reasoning, the attempted use of the filibuster would be justified as a retaliatory measure until such time as both parties could agree to forswear future reliance upon it. I have yet to read of any Republican Senator justifying an attempted filibuster on this basis, however.

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