After four long years Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen won Senate confirmation by a 55-43 vote.
“We cannot stop with this single step,” Majority Leader Bill Frist said in a written statement soon after the vote. The Tennessee Republican resurrected a threat to strip Democrats of their right to filibuster Bush’s picks for the nation’s highest courts if they violate the 2-day-old accord.
“We must give fair up-or-down votes to other previously blocked nominees,” he said. “It is the only way to close this miserable and unprecedented chapter in Senate history.”
The White House released the following statement:
Bush said Owen “has served with distinction on the Supreme Court of Texas, has demonstrated that she strictly interprets the law and brings a wealth of experience and expertise” to the appeals court.
“I urge the Senate to build on this progress and provide my judicial nominees the up or down votes they deserve.”
The filibuster compromise brokered the other night by a bipartisan group of 14 senators (Seven Dwarf’s from both parties) is seen to be as week as a Palestinian-Israeli cease fire agreement. It is one filibuster away from being broken and the
“nuclear” Constitutional option brought back into play.
An aide in Reid’s office told FOX News that Democrats intend to filibuster Myers’ nomination; that could bring the entire filibuster agreement reached earlier this week to its knees. Some Republicans have said if judges like Myers are filibustered as an obstructionist ploy, they would throw their weight behind bringing in the nuclear option.
Frist said Democratic use of procedural delaying tactics to stop Owen and nine other Bush judicial nominees was “a new and dangerous course” and “a power grab of unprecedented proportions.”
Other Republicans agreed that the deal was just another way to “kick the can down the road” and postpone another inevitable fight.
“The big issue will be the Supreme Court vacancy,” Sen. Allen told FOX News, referring to the expected upcoming vacancy on that bench once the ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist becomes too ill to serve. “And we don’t want to be going through this sort of battle as opposed to the qualifications of the nominee. And unfortunately it seems to me that we will.”
What may be more interesting is the following comment by Senate Minority leader Harry Reid which goes against the intent of the filibuster compromise that 7 of his Democratic colleagues strapped him with.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said before the vote that he would vote against Owen because of her “extreme ideological approach to the law.” He said she consistently ruled in favor of big business and corporate interests and against consumers and workers.
In a point also made by The Moderate Voice, under the agreements of the filibuster compromise Democrats have the right to filibuster only “under extraordinary circumstances.” By Democrats allowing the passage of Owens, Brown and Pryor (the three most extreme) according to Democrats in the run up to today; how are they going to brand other judges that George W. Bush may nominate as being extreme? As The Moderate Voice says,
This was the first of Bush’s stalled judicial picks to sail through under the compromise struck by Democratic and Republican moderates Ã¢â‚¬” a compromise hard-core partisans on both sides consider something of a sell out.
Under the plan Democrats retain the right to filibuster “under extraordinary circumstances.” That suggests that Owen, first nominated by Bush four years ago, doesn’t fall into that category. So does she become the new yardstick? In politics Ã¢â‚¬” as in law Ã¢â‚¬” precedent matters.
It is only a matter of time before this situation boils over as too many Senators and their constituents were not please with the
compromise sell out. Before long all the praise given John Mc Cain by the media will go the way of a Middle East Peace cease fire. Nothing has been settled with the issue of judicial filibuster and frankly the Republican base will never forgive Republican Senators if they do not do what they were voted in to office for. Act like you are in the majority.