Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Showdown Begins

The biggest political story of the year will be the showdown on judicial nominees.

The first hearing promised by Specter happened yesterday, and not surprisingly, no one has changed their minds. Specter counts 58 votes to end a filibuster which he thinks is close enough to the 60 needed to get it done. But here is a positive development,
Instead of gaining ground, however, Myers's backers appeared to be struggling not to lose it. Sen. Ken Salazar (Colo.), one of the Democrats Specter is banking on, sent a letter to Bush urging him to withdraw Myers's nomination and those of other judicial appointees whom Democrats blocked last year.

In January 2004, when Salazar was Colorado's attorney general, he signed a letter "strongly" supporting Myers's confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco. A spokesman yesterday said Salazar "remains undecided" on Myers and other judicial nominations working their way toward the Senate floor.

Specter also told reporters he once had hoped Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) might back Myers. But after Schumer ripped into Myers's environmental record at yesterday's hearing, Specter dropped that hope, saying Schumer's speech was "as tough an indictment as I've heard in that room in 24 years."

By mid-afternoon, Senate leaders talked as though a partisan collision over the nomination of Myers and other contested conservatives is as likely as ever. Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said nothing has changed regarding Myers and six other renominated appellate court appointees blocked by filibusters in Bush's first term. "We're going to treat them just the same as we have in the past," he told reporters.
We can't lose these fights, and these kinds of battles are all about grass-roots. Salazar's constituents should be flooding is office with calls and letters in opposition to Myers.

And for the bigger picture, we have to call the GOP hypocrites on this topic at ever opportunity. And I don't mean figuratively-- I mean "you are a hypocrite, and here's why". They blocked many more Clinton nominees including blacks and Hispanics and we cannot allow them the free ride on this topic that hacks like Tim Russert give them. They did filibuster one Clinton nominee and Frist supported it, despite their current denials. Also, for most of Clinton's term they didn't need to filibuster because they controlled the Senate and refused hearings and votes of nominees -- no filibuster required.

They cannot continue to have a pass on this and we have to fight hard. Frist is looking for an excuse to change the rules, and only if he is really stung by the politics of this, will he back down.

Of course, I have no hope that Reid and Pelosi are even remotely up for the fight. Howard?

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