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Senate Republicans Should Force 'Real' Filibuster
by Robert R. Eberle, Ph.D., GOPUSA
02 October 2003Charles Schumer

Senate Republicans have allowed the Democrats to hold judicial nominees hostage without having to put forth the time, effort, and energy of a "real" filibuster.

In 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

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