We believe that Leader Frist should continue, deliberately and steadfastly, to bring all nominations through the Judiciary Committee and to the floor of the Senate for up-or-down votes.

Senate Sellout

Last night, fourteen so-called “moderates” temporarily hijacked the U.S. Senate, defying the President of the United States and leaders of both political parties.  The seven Democrats and seven Republicans agreed to allow up-or-down votes on three of President Bush’s judicial nominees — Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor.  They agreed to send two — William Myers and Henry Saad — to purgatory.  They apparently agreed, although not in writing, to allow the nominations of three others — Richard Griffin, David McKeague and Susan Neilson — to proceed, and to throw two — Brett Kavanaugh and William Haynes — into the trash bin of history.

Thus was the Democrat filibuster of judicial nominees conditionally postponed.  Thus was the Republican exercise of the Nuclear or Constitutional Option conditionally postponed.

It would be error to ascribe a singular motivation to all fourteen.  Each had his or her own reason.  But each unquestionably sacrificed principle to an institution.  We believe in principles.  We value institutions.  But when there is a clash between the two, we do and will choose principle every time.  Principle over institution produced the American Revolution.  Principle over institution produces the kind of leaders that have shaped this nation and must continue to do so.

For political warriors of both Left and Right, last night’s backroom deal truly only delays the inevitable clash of principles that defines leadership, not of an institution, but of a country.

Forget the gang of fourteen … for a while.  They have done their deed, and as dastardly as it is, it should be nothing more than a temporary roadblock for those who are committed to principle.

The energy of every supporter of the Center for Individual Freedom has been unflagging in the effort to uphold the principle of fairness — an up-or-down vote for each and every one of the President’s judicial nominees.  We have no reason to curtail our energy or lose sight of that principle just because we have been dealt a temporary setback.

We have a President who has stood by principle … sometimes at great political cost.  He must continue, and he should be encouraged to continue — especially for judicial nominees who will restore constitutional principles to the rule of law.

Majority Leader Bill Frist, although exercising patience beyond our understanding, has stood on principle up until now.  He must be encouraged to continue with every ounce of energy we can muster.

The gang of fourteen’s “compromise” does not eliminate the filibuster as a tool to defeat judicial nominees.  Rather, the “compromise” guarantees the filibuster’s continued use against some of the President’s choices to serve on the federal bench — and nearly ensures its use on any impending Supreme Court appointment.

But, there is absolutely nothing in the gang of fourteen’s “compromise” that prevents the continuation of the judicial confirmation process as it began.  We believe that Leader Frist should continue, deliberately and steadfastly, to bring all nominations through the Judiciary Committee and to the floor of the Senate for up-or-down votes.  It is the ultimate test of his leadership, his stated principles, that he do so.  And then, as it was before last night, 100 members of the Senate should vote their convictions and their consciences, not as roving, rolling gangs of obstructionists, but as the individual leaders of this country that the voters of their individual states sent them there to be.

May 24, 2005
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