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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Eyes on the Non-Nuclear Prize

Like the rest of you who aren’t privy to the internal doings of the U.S. Senate, I do not know about the political prospects of the current effort towards a compromise that would limit filibusters to five of the ten Bush Court of Appeals appointees, while preserving it in the Senate rules, which means preserving it for future Supreme Court nominees. I also don’t know if, absent a compromise, Bill Frist can get the votes to “go nuclear” and ram through approval of all ten judges while paving the way for a right-wing activist reshaping of the Supreme Court.But I certainly wouldn’t be inclined to take the risk that a hard line by Senate Democrats won’t completely backfire, either. If enough Republicans can be convinced to go for this deal to guarantee the failure of the nuclear option, Democrats would be well advised to jump on it. Personally, while I’m not a big fan of any of the ten proposed Court of Appeals judges, I am really worried about two of them: Owens and Brown, who happen to the be two Frist intends to use as the vehicle for getting to the nuclear option. The chance to keep these two–plus three more, in theory–off the Court of Appeals, along with a sure vote against the nuclear option, is not only a good deal for Democrats, but will represent a definitive defeat for Bush, Frist, and their Cultural Right allies who don’t give a damn about the Court of Appeals and who are praying for the opportunity to present GOPers with an all-or-nothing approach to judges. I say this because there will be some Democrats who will argue for rolling the dice on the entire judiciary, either because they think we will win, or because they are just opposed to any compromises with the Republicans on any topic whatsoever. It would be a shame to throw away victory in this fight simply because the word “compromise” is attached to it. The deal reportedly in the works would be a victory, all right, and no one should be criticized for accepting it.

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