recent memory, there are few words that draw the ire of conservatives more
than the word "filibuster." The reason? Liberal Democrats have
used their version of a filibuster to block the nominations of conservative
judges put forward by President George W. Bush. Their tactics have
led to a log jam in the confirmation process and even resulted in the withdrawal
of nominee Miguel Estrada from consideration. It turns out that Estrada
would rather get on with his life than be held in limbo -- a state that existed
for him for over two years while he waited for an up or down vote from the
full Senate. To be sure, the tactics of the liberal Democrats have
enraged conservatives. But where is the angered focused? At the Democrats?
No. Much of the anger of conservatives across the country is directed
at Senate Republicans. The Republicans are the ones who have changed
the definition of "filibuster" and allowed the Democrats to hold judicial
nominees hostage without having to put forth the time, effort, and energy
of a "real" filibuster.
As a publisher and editor of news and commentary, I receive feedback from
conservatives across America. Every now and then, an issue will strike
a nerve with our audience, and the result is waves upon waves of e-mail.
Case in point was the day that Miguel Estrada removed his name from consideration
for a spot on the Washington, DC Court of Appeals. Numerous readers
chose to share their opinions with us, and in an almost unanimous sentiment,
the blame for the Estrada withdrawal was placed at the feet of the Republicans
and not the Democrats.
One reader wrote, "The failure to approve Estrada and the other pending appointments
lies with the Republican Party. The Democrats are just doing what they do.
Do the Republicans need a two-thirds majority in both houses to be effective?"
Another reader sent these comments, "Is it not time for the Republican-held
Senate to have the guts to force the despicable Dems into a "REAL" filibuster?
If they want to stop the Bush nominees, then MAKE THEM GO AT IT 24/7. Does
anyone know what the problem is with the lack of leadership in the Senate?"
One final example summarizes the feelings of many: "The Republican Party
doesn't have the guts to enforce the Constitution against the Democrats.
They back down every time the Democrats confront them. They haven't the nerve
to castigate the Democrats for filibustering these nominations. The only
thing they think about is not offending any group for fear of losing votes.
Ronald Reagan would disown them."
These comments come from Republicans, and they are directed at Republicans.
At no time during the "filibusters" of President Bush's judicial nominees
have the Democrats had to maintain their debate in an on-going fashion, as
is the case for a real filibuster. Senate rules allow any senator to
block a vote by holding the floor through a filibuster. Only a vote
of 60 senators to end debate will bring a filibuster to an end. However,
a filibuster traditionally involves "non-stop" debate in which the filibuster
must be a constant 24 hours a day, seven days a week procedure. The
Democrats have been allowed to carry out a "country club" version of a filibuster
-- never having to lose sleep or skip a meal in order to block conservative
judges from consideration. It is clear from the feelings of Republicans
across the country that enough is enough. It's time for Republicans
in the Senate to force the Democrats into a real filibuster.
The focus now turns to the nomination of Judge Charles Pickering. Pickering,
whose nomination was first defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee when
the Democrats held the majority, will likely be up for a confirmation vote
in October. But Democrats, such as Charles Schumer from New York, have
indicated that the Pickering nomination will likely face a filibuster.
It's time for the Senate Republicans to "go to bat" for one of the President's
judicial nominees. If the Democrats can block the nominations of quality
conservatives with this "soft ball" version of a filibuster, then they deserve
kudos for accomplishing their mission. On the other hand, the Republicans
will deserve every ounce of anger that is directed toward them. In
order to make the Democrats debate 24/7, it means the Republicans have to
have the will and desire to go at it 24/7 as well. Do they have
the guts to do it? I certainly hope so. Conservative principles
are worth fighting for, and so are conservative judges. Let's show
the Democrats that we can "sit" and "stay," and not just "roll over."
Bobby Eberle is President and CEO of GOPUSA.com.