Wednesday, May 25, 2005

And How Do You Spell...?

Phr...Pir...Pyhr...Prh...ohhhh, I remember...Pyrrhic! That's it! Pyrrhic victory anyone?

on the Nation's website...
05/24/2005 @ 5:12pm

Bad Deal on Judges
by John Nichols

As the showdown on the so-called "nuclear option" approached, polls
showed that the American people opposed scheming on the part of
Senate GOP leaders to eliminate judicial filibusters by an
overwhelming 2-to-1 margin.

Even among grassroots Republicans, there was broad discomfort with
the idea of creating a tyranny-of-the-majority scenario in which the
minority party in the Senate would no longer be consulted regarding
lifetime appointments to the federal courts.

So there were plenty Republican senators who were looking for a way
out of the corner into which Senate majority leader Bill Frist, R-
Tenn., had maneuvered them. Democrats simply needed to hold the line,
while attracting Republicans who were uncomfortable with Frist's
machinations, and they could have secured the will of the people.

Unfortunately, the Democrats buckled. So Republicans will get the
votes they want on at least three federal appeals court nominees who
should not be allowed on the bench.

Under a compromise worked out by moderate Republicans and Democrats,
the "nuclear option" has been averted for the time being -- and
perhaps permanently.

But in return for that concession by the Republicans, the Democrats
have agreed to allow confirmation votes on three judicial
nominations that had been blocked: Janice Rogers Brown, William
Pryor Jr. and Priscilla Owen. The trio were among the ten appeals
court nominees whose records of judicial activism, ideological
rigidity and ethical misdeeds were so troubling that a substantial
number of senators felt they ought not be given lifetime tenures on
key appellate court benches.

It now appears that confirmation is all but certain for the nominees:
That's bad news for Americans in general and, in particular, for low-
income citizens, people of color and women who look to the nation's
highest courts for a measure of protection against discrimination and
other forms of government-sanctioned abuse.

Brown, who has been nominated to serve on the powerful US Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has condemned the New
Deal, which gave the United States Social Security, the minimum wage
and fair labor laws. She has expressed doubts about whether age
discrimination laws are a good idea. And she has made it clear that
she is no fan of affirmative action or other programs designed to
help minorities and women overcome centuries of oppression.

Pryor, while serving as attorney general of Alabama, fought to
undermine the authority of Congress to prohibit discrimination and to
protect the environment, to maintain separation of church and state,
to protect reproductive freedom and to guarantee equal protection
under the law for gay men and lesbians. He has been nominated to
serve on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Owen, who has been nominated to serve on the US Court of Appeals for
the Fifth Circuit, established a record on the Texas Supreme Court of
unswerving loyalty to corporate interests. She has, in addition,
adopted such extreme antiabortion rights stances that even her fellow
conservatives, including Alberto Gonzalez, who was then a Supreme
Court justice but now servers as US Attorney General, have distanced
themselves from her.

All three nominees have drawn broad opposition from civil rights,
women's rights, public interest, religious, environmental and labor
groups. None of them should ever be allowed anywhere near an appeals
court bench. Yet it is likely that, as a result of the deal worked
out by the moderate senators, all three will soon be donning the
robes of the federal judiciary.

This "compromise" may have averted the "nuclear option" for a time.
But it will saddle the federal bench with more bad judges.

That's a bad deal, especially when there is such overwhelming public
sentiment for maintaining the right of senators to block
inappropriate judicial nominees. Democrats were right to oppose
Brown, Pryor and Owen. They will come to regret cutting the deal to
let these unacceptable nominees -- and the others who are now sure to
be nominated by the Bush Administration -- to be approved.

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