WASHINGTON -- May 24 -- Fourteen senators reached a bipartisan compromise last night, pulling the Senate back from the brink and avoiding the nuclear option for now, but giving a pass to three extremist judges who fully deserved to be filibustered.
"The entire 'nuclear option' maneuver was an exercise in scorched-earth politics. In pushing it, what Bill Frist and the Republican leadership really compromised was their integrity," said NOW President Kim Gandy. "Our democracy was compromised by the machinations of a power-hungry administration and their lackeys in the Senate who put their allegiance to George W. Bush above their oath of office."
A compromise by some middle-roaders in both parties preserved the filibuster for another day, another fight, but perhaps at too high a cost. In the so-called compromise, seven Republican senators agreed not to vote for the "nuclear option" to ban the filibuster, and seven Democratic senators agreed not to use the filibuster against three of the Bush's most extreme nominees, and henceforth only in extraordinary cases. Here's the rub: the filibuster was only being used in extraordinary cases anyway only 10 of more than 200 nominees so far.
"The Senate 'compromise' was more like a mugging," said Gandy, "where the thug says 'if you give me what I want, I won't shoot you . . . at least not right now.' Indeed, the victim may feel relieved for the moment, but has been victimized nonetheless. And may yet be shot."
Priscilla Owen, who will likely be voted on this week, was publicly criticized at least a dozen times by Bush's own Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, when they were both on the Texas Supreme Court. In one case, when Owen tried to re-write Texas' abortion laws to suit her own ideology, Gonzales referred to her attempt as "unconscionable judicial activism."
Janice Rogers Brown is a staunch opponent of women's rights and civil rights. Her views lie so far outside the mainstream that she was the lone dissenter on the California Supreme Court in decision after decision. Just this week the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 9-0 decision, affirmed that court in a case in which Brown had vociferously dissented and even commented negatively on Brown's dissent. Not even Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas came to the defense of her shoddy reasoning and outrageous conclusions.
William Pryor, a former Alabama attorney general, used his office to oppose the traditional separation between church and state. He has consistently argued against a woman's right to choose abortion, calling Roe v. Wade "the worst abomination in the history of Constitutional law." Pryor also filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court, arguing that a key provision of the Violence Against Women Act interfered with "state's rights," and was therefore unconstitutional.
"Who heard a peep from the Senators who now profess such a deep conviction that every nominee deserves an up-or-down vote, when 60 of Bill Clinton's nominees (including some for these same vacancies) were denied a floor vote?" asked Gandy.
"Their crocodile tears for these extremist nominees don't cover up the fact that they are willing to abuse their power and sacrifice the integrity and trust of the many for the greed of the few. For the future of our country and our courts, we must not let them. We must defeat Owen, Brown, Pryor, and every extremist nomination that comes to the Senate."