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Saturday, May 21, 2005

Same Shoe, Other Foot

Today's lesson is called "Fun with Scenarios." Assume a Democratic president — perhaps John Kerry. Let's say that, on the strength of his personality and his powerful narrative rendering of what should have happened at Torra Borra but didn't, Kerry got to the White House with a big enough margin to return leadership of the Senate and House to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Say Reid controls the Senate by 55 votes. The people of Searchlight, Nevada, are justifiably proud of their native son. (Kerry's victory wasn't enough to save Tom Daischle.) So President Kerry offers this short list of six candidates to fill as many seats on the federal judiciary: Gloria Alred, James Carville, Susan Estrich, Laurance Tribe, Julian Bond, Alan Dershowitz, and Elizabeth Birch (former head of the gay and lesbian advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign). In addition, suppose cries of "Don't be greedy," "Let's compromise," "We'll vote yes on the 3 least liberal nominees" were to go up from: Orrin Hatch, Rick Santorum, Bill Frist, John Kyle, and Kay Bailey Hutchison — all of whom threatened to filibuster the nomination process, in the name of "simple fairness." Given that scenario, do you think we could expect to hear ringing defenses of the filibuster from Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Chris Dodd, and Carl Levin? Or do you suppose they would be leading the charge against the filibuster as a "procedural gimmick being used by obstructionists to deny the judicial candidates their right to an up or down vote?" Just asking.