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Wednesday, May 18, 2005Our entire way of life is at stake
And now the ''nuclear option.'' Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist vows to blow up the Senate by getting the Republican majority to outlaw any filibuster against President Bush's judicial nominees. Democrats have approved 208 of Bush's 218 nominees, but are blocking 10 as too extreme. This is a 95% approval rate. That is unacceptable to Frist and apparently to Bush also.
In a direct insult to his opposition, Bush renominated the same handful of extremists previously blocked. Now he demands an up-or-down vote on them -- essentially ordering Frist to blow up the Senate. As in the run-up to the war in Iraq, he's intent on winning, with little sense of the costs and consequences of what he's driving the country into.
Outside groups on both sides are mobilizing. The right of the Republican Party has called blocking a handful of Bush's nominees an assault on ''people of faith.'' (The president apparently is so infallible that to question even 10 of more than 200 nominees is to risk eternal damnation.) Liberals have started touting the filibuster as the bedrock of democracy.
But this debate isn't about freedom of religion. And it isn't about the filibuster. It's about the judges and the direction of the country.
Bush isn't nominating conservative judges as his father did; he's nominating radicals, vetted by the right-wing Federalist Society, and dedicated to advancing the movement's agenda through the courts. He's naming judges who will overturn precedents that the conservative movement doesn't like -- from Roe vs. Wade that gave women the right of choice, to Brown vs. Board of Education that outlawed segregation, to the core jurisprudence of the New Deal.