The Democrats’ continued attempts to avoid their constitutional duty of advice and consent took another step Wednesday as they voted, for the seventh time this year, to block the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The vote came as no surprise as they seem to be in the habit of bad-mouthing and voting against Mr. Estrada and they had voted Tuesday against ending their filibuster of the nomination of Priscilla Owen to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
It appears that the list of filibuster-able judicial nominees will grow longer today as a vote is scheduled on the motion to end debate on the nomination of Alabama Atty. Gen. William Pryor to the 11th Circuit. All indications are that Senate Democrats will treat his nomination the same way they’ve treated the nominations of Owen and Estrada – with contempt.
Opposition to Mr. Pryor is based mainly on his pro-life stance – a result of his deeply held religious beliefs – and his ability to aptly defend that stance. Liberals fear that Pryor could be dangerous to the abortion lobby to which they are beholden.
So why is this important? Democrats’ (pseudo-)filibuster is unconstitutional and the GOP should do something to get these judges confirmed. Cloture votes are good politically, but they don’t go far enough. It’s time to demand more of the Senate Leftists.
Republicans must now push the issue of judicial nominations to the next level and find a way to bring the blockade to an end. Yes, the judiciary committee has passed a resolution to end the filibustering of judicial nominees. Yes, the “nuclear” option is still on the table. Until then, the GOP needs to force Democrat opponents to President Bush’s judicial nominations to take the floor and lead a true filibuster, not one of these vote-against-cloture-every-few-weeks procedural filibusters.
This is a win-win situation for the GOP. The politics of the Democrats blocking a female nominee (Owen), a Hispanic nominee (Estrada), and a nominee with strong bipartisan support (Pryor) benefit Republicans. But if the Democrats refuse to use an active filibuster and do allow the nominations get through, the nation will have three great jurists on the appeals courts.
Perhaps the Republican leadership will eventually have the courage to stare down the Democrats and see if they blink.