By Pete Ellis
May 16, 2005
The Senate is dealing with a question of filibuster use while trying to masquerade behind a facade of "voting up or voting down" as a more appropriate alternative. More properly the question is the submission, by the President, of candidates whose stature and background fail to match up to those qualities which are felt to be warranted in terms of judicial selection.
The reason for and the value of the filibuster is to ensure that the qualities of the candidates are more thoroughly evaluated and not determined in accordance with a Presidential fiat that is not always based upon whether an applicant is well suited for judicial appointment. The problem with "voting up or voting down" is the party line following that pretty much determines that a President gets those whom he selects.
Lisa Murkowski is to be commended for her middle position and for not presently agreeing with the political process and judicial choice along party lines. She is certainly not addressing her party line in terms of still being in an undecided and apparently less conservative position than some of her colleagues.
Lisa is not, however, correct in terms of her position that the filibuster should not be available in the Senate and as to Judicial nomination. What the filibuster threat allows is a greater pressure upon the President to select qualified individuals and as to which the current slate of candidates is subject to substantial question.
Certainly the basic need is to select and appoint the most qualified individuals. When a political party has simple majority control of nomination approval the question of qualification is not subject to the same determination. It is instead more of a political one in terms of proposing candidates who have arrived at the path of choice for political reasons and despite a background record and posture which clearly poses problems as to future judicial decision making.
So let us give some thought as to whether the quality of the candidates will be improved in terms of a need to survive a filibuster potential. The quality of the candidates will diminish to the extent that a filibuster can no longer be used to defeat applicants whose background is less than that desired.
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