Thursday, November 11, 2004

So I guess this is the plan:

Emboldened by their role in re-electing President Bush, conservatives are making Mr. Specter -- whose brusque independence has earned him the nickname Snarlin' Arlen on Capitol Hill -- a test case of their political power. As they try to keep Mr. Specter, a centrist Pennsylvania Republican who supports abortion rights, from heading the Senate Judiciary Committee, they are demanding a steep concession: support for changing a century-old Senate rule that permits judicial nominations to be blocked by filibuster.

"I would be shocked if conservatives don't extract a pound of flesh from Senator Specter," said Richard A. Viguerie, the Republican consultant, who is circulating strategy memos on the issue.

I knew the Republicans wanted to rewrite the rules this way, but I didn't realize they were going to try to blackmail Specter to get the change.

If it happens, it happens. I've admired the resolve of the Senate Democrats on judicial nominations, and an end to filibusters will certainly put a lot more extremists on the bench, but it might be useful to have a few full-Senate battles if it means that some of the outrageous words and deeds of Bush's nominees (e.g., Bill Pryor and the hitching post) get a Lani Guinier-level airing.


(And, yes, Viguerie talked about taking "a pound of flesh" from Specter, who's Jewish. Make of that what you will.)

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