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Time to Win in the Judiciary

Wednesday, 04 May 2005 12:00 AM

This seemingly arcane debate about Senate procedure has become white-hot. Why should pro-life, pro-family citizens in Middle America care? The simple reality: The only practical way of restoring democratic rule on the issue of abortion, and thus the possibility of legal protection for unborn children, is by getting good judges on the federal bench, particularly the U.S. Supreme Court.

It's also the only practical way to prevent "rights" to euthanasia and to same-sex "marriage" from being magically discovered in the Constitution and imposed on America. Other methods – constitutional amendments, impeachment of bad judges, comprehensive court jurisdiction stripping, presidential non-enforcement of unconstitutional judicial rulings – will not work or will not happen in the foreseeable future (for more on why, see the Weekly Briefing on "Stopping Same-Sex Marriage" from Feb. 11, 2005).

The increasing use of "international law" to justify activist decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court should be enough to make all law-abiding Americans fear. The United Nations, the European Union and others have been trying to insert abortion rights, privileges for homosexuals, and other innovations into international law. If activist judges succeed in establishing the principle that American courts should follow international law, we will have no defense against what unelected international bureaucrats wish to impose.

In recent landmark decisions legalizing sodomy and outlawing the death penalty for minors, the U.S. Supreme Court has cited international law and the practices of other nations as justifications for the new rights they discovered.

The only way to get those good judges, and good Supreme Court justices when the time comes, into those black robes is to abolish the filibuster for judicial nominees. Filibusters of legislation would be unaffected by Senate Republicans' proposals.

And if people of faith don't stand up now, they will be excluded from the federal bench forever. Leftists have referred to these nominees' religious beliefs about abortion and "gay rights" as unacceptable. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., complained about Catholic nominee William Pryor's "deeply held beliefs" on abortion in justifying his opposition to Pryor, even though as attorney general of Alabama, Pryor had an impeccable record of enforcing legal precedent such as Roe v. Wade on abortion cases as well as on everything else.

Democratic senators have filibustered ten of President Bush's most judicial of his judicial nominees, that is, those who prefer to interpret the law rather than make it. That's part of having a judicial temperament. Bush and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., ask that the nominees get an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. They will be confirmed by majority vote if they do. And that will pave the way for up-or-down majority votes when Supreme Court vacancies arise.

Some whine that eliminating the filibuster for nominees will prevent pro-life senators from filibustering the left-wing nominees of a future pro-death president. But pro-lifers have never successfully filibustered any such judicial nominees in the past. In fact, no judicial nominee with majority support in the Senate has ever before been defeated via filibuster.

Leftist Democrats have set a new precedent. We shouldn't expect social conservatives to follow it.

Frist made a reasonable offer to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on April 28. It would apply only to higher-level judicial nominees, not to other presidential appointments or to legislation.

"Circuit and Supreme Court nominations placed on the Executive Calendar [for Senate action] and available for debate should receive an up or down vote," Frist wrote in a letter. "Accordingly, I propose establishing a procedure by which every Supreme Court and circuit court nomination can be debated for up to 100 hours on the floor of the United States Senate. Such a structure will allow for robust and extended discussion of whether an individual should be confirmed, and will give the nominee – no matter who is President and who is in the majority – an up or down vote when debate concludes."

Reid & co. rejected the offer.

When the Senate returns from its latest recess May 9, Frist will likely have the votes and the impetus to end judicial filibusters permanently.

The filibuster fight has stirred up some fiery rhetoric. Freshman Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., who said during his campaign that judicial nominees should get up-or-down votes only to flip-flip immediately upon entering the Senate, called Focus on the Family "the anti-Christ" for condemning the judicial filibusters (and for other good things that Focus does).

Reid refers to those who believe that judges shouldn't make law as "the far right." California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, whom Bush has nominated to a federal appeals court, told a group of Catholic lawyers after the Bridgeport, Conn., diocese's Red Mass, "These are perilous times for people of faith, not in the sense that we are going to lose our lives, but in the sense that it will cost you something if you are a person of faith who stands up for what you believe in and say those things out loud."

In a recent poll, 81 percent of Americans agreed with the statement, "Even if they disagree with a judge, Senate Democrats should at least allow the President's nominations to be voted on." It's time to make this happen.

If you would like to express your opinion on ending the filibusters of the President's judicial nominees to your state's two senators, call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or obtain direct numbers at www.senate.gov.

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This seemingly arcane debate about Senate procedure has become white-hot. Why should pro-life, pro-family citizens in Middle America care?The simple reality: The only practical way of restoring democratic rule on the issue of abortion, and thus the possibility of legal...
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2005-00-04
Wednesday, 04 May 2005 12:00 AM
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