Right now, there’s a lot of chat in the liberal blogopshere about how “we all need to filibuster” over the cloture vote on Alito. The issue is portrayed as the “put up or shut up” moment that Dems need to act on.
Yet I don’t think it is – at least, in the form it is taking.
Right now, a lot of the drive for a filibuster is coming from abortion rights groups, such as NARAL and Feminist Majority. These groups are arguing that Judge Alito will strike down Roe v. Wade, and that this is the single most damning aspect of his legal history. They argue that he will bring the country to ruin, that women who seek abortions will have zero options, etc.
The thing is: Alito has defended his views on Roe v. Wade via legal arguments, background cases, and the other things that a good judge or lawyer uses to defend his opinion. Yes, I disagree with his view on this, but this does not mean that he is an unfit judge.
Now I do agree that Alito is not fit to serve on the Supreme Court, but not because of his views on abortion rights. Rather, I have a problem with his views on separation of powers and on personal privacy. I believe that he will cede too much power to the Executive branch (especially to a conservative one), turning a blind eye to the Constitution with regard to matters like warrentless wiretapping, unprovoked military action, and military action against non-governmental entities. I fear that Alito will cause to court to lose its checking power, which would essentially make Bush “king.”
Now that is a good reason to object Alito. And it won’t take additional discussion in the Senate chambers to deduce such a stance.
Yet the Democrats are taking no unified, committed approach to the filibuster, nor is the “netroots.” The NARAL/FM tack, the “Bush nominated him so he has to be bad” tack, and the separation-of-powers tack have all been chewed up, swallowed and regurgitated ad infinitum by these groups, with little effect other than to show that the Dems are:
- not focused on long-term victory
- lack leadership
- aren’t thinking outside the box
- doing this at the 11th hour, rather than having planned a well-strategized move
This is not the fight that will define the Dems for the 2006 election season. At least I hope it isn’t, because it’s left tons of room for criticism.
Speaking as a Dem, just let the vote happen, and vote no if you have a good, solid reason to do so. Don’t join the political posturing runway walk, don’t play games: just vote.
No excuses: just vote.
There will be other battles where you can fight and win in a way that will show strength and conviction: Abramoff, FISA, Fizgerald – there will be more chances to show true political muscle without looking like a bunch of rudderless idiots.
Update: only 25 Dems voted against cloture. The vote on Alito will take place tomorrow, and I hope that the Dems show up and vote – just vote.