Test battle over judicial nominations on Thursday

The Christian Science Monitor reports that “Thursday’s vote on the first of President Bush’s blocked judicial nominees sets up a test of a ‘nuclear option’ whose fallout could effectively bring the US Senate to a stop for the balance of the 109th Congress – and affect the balance on US courts for decades.”

The Judiciary Committee will likely send “the nomination of William Myers to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals” to the full Senate on a party-line vote. The Democrats will likely filibuster and Republicans will likely use this occasion to seek to introduce a rules change — the so-called “nuclear option” — to limit the ability of the minority party to filibuster. “‘Both parties understand that this is a dress rehearsal for the Supreme Court,’ says Sheldon Goldman, a political scientist and expert on judicial nominations at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. ‘It’s been nicknamed the nuclear option because the fallout would be radioactive as far as our politics goes.'” The Democratic Party has issued an action alert asking people to sign a petition to — in their words, protect free speech. This isn’t really about free speech. It is about protecting minority rights against a tyranny of the majority. It is about the purpose of the Senate itself — as a counterweight to the more popularly representative House of Representatives. And, it is about stacking the courts in favor of the right wing — an effect which could last decades.

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