In return for dumping these two nominees, however, the Republicans won a commitment from the seven Democrat signatories that they will only exercise the filibuster against judicial nominees "under extraordinary circumstances." Although Democrats are given some wiggle room to use their own judgment to determine whether such circumstances exist, it's hard to imagine how any of those who signed on to this compromise could argue that filibustering nearly one out of every three appellate nominees -- the proportion of Bush appellate nominees who have so far been subjected to this treatment -- would be justified. And if the Democrat signatories go back on their word -- especially those from red states like Nebraska, Louisiana, Colorado and Arkansas -- they could find themselves paying a price at the polls.
Conservatives' biggest concern about the deal forged by just 14 senators is that it encourages the president "to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration." But consulting isn't the same thing as "pre-clearing" a nominee -- it would simply encourage the president to seek the advice of the Senate, as stipulated in the Constitution, earlier in the process. In theory, there's nothing particularly objectionable about this practice, so long as it doesn't give Democrats a veto on the president's choices. And, of course, if Democrats play fair -- hardly a guarantee -- they would have to do the same thing once they're back in the White House.
Compromise doesn't usually produce clear winners and losers -- but this one should be scored a big loss for leftwing interest groups and Democrat obstructionists. And that should give conservatives reason enough to cheer.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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