Monday, March 07, 2005

Bush's second term score: Specter 2, conservatives 0

According to Robert Novak, Senator Arlen Specter has undermined the nuclear option (i.e. a Republican appeal to the rules with the intent of allowing cloture on judicial nominations by a majority vote instead of a 3/5ths vote), apparently by reporting judicial nominations out of his committee in the wrong order.

I don't view this as necessarily being the setback for conservatives that Robert Novak considers it to be. Assume that Senator Specter is correct in assuming that Democrats will drop their filibusters in order to avoid the execution of the nuclear option. The Republicans in this case will have won the substance of their claims even without making their challenge. If Senator Specter is wrong and the Democrats remain committed to their filibusters, then even he may come to defer to the Republican leadership on the use of the nuclear option. Given the stakes involved in the Senate's judicial confirmation wars, it would be better for the Republicans to reduce the risk of defections to the Democrats before putting the nuclear option into play.

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