Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The U.S. Senate: back to normal

If you've been paying any attention to the Senate battles over confirming judicial nominee's, then you've heard about the recent attempt to keep Senator Arlen Specter from assuming the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Arlen Specter will become chairperson of the committee unless the Senate somehow modifies its rules to prevent him. Conservatives who want pro-life judges want to modify the rules to make someone else chairperson out of fear that Senator Specter will attempt to bork one of Bush's pro-life Supreme Court nominations. Conservatives even have a good reason to oppose Specter as chairperson, since it was Specter who conducted the original "borking" along with Ted Kennedy.

Today, Fox News reported that Specter has secured the support of the the Judiciary Committee's current chairperson. Current Bush second term score: Specter 1, conservatives 0.

This result, of course, was obvious to everyone except for the conservatives most stridently opposing Specter. The Senate has always been very strident about guarding its independence from the executive branch, even if that means grinding down the President's agenda to a standstill. Old-fashioned Republicans discovered this the hard way back in the age of Senate dominance at the end of the 19th century, and liberals got the same lesson during the civil rights era of the 20th century. Insofar as the conservative movement is interpreted as "going over the top" in pressuring the Senate to adopt President's Bush's agenda, conservatives are going to get the same treatment.


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