- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Assistant Minority Leader Harry Reid’s obstructive eight-and-one-half hour stand on the Senate floor on Monday should give Senate Republicans all the inspiration they need to complete their own “Justice for Judges Marathon.”

Starting at 6 tonight, Republicans will spend 30 straight hours of debate attempting to shut off the filibusters on three well-qualified nominees for the federal bench: California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, nominated to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia; Texas Supreme Court Associate Justice Priscilla Owen, nominated to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals; and Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl, nominated to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. To do so, they have brought in the cots and candy bars, hoping that they might catch Democrats napping during the night, allowing at least one nominee to slip through the blockade.

It’s about time. Democrats are blocking several well-qualified nominees for the federal bench. In addition to Judge Kuhl, and Justices Owen and Brown, they are also filibustering Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, nominated to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and District Judge Charles Pickering Sr., nominated to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Seven judicial nominees could be blocked by filibusters before the year ends.

It would be surprising if the marathon changed many minds on the matter. Yet, it is a welcome move nonetheless, demonstrating that Republicans have the will and endurance to do what is necessary to highlight the obstructionism of Democrats. As Robert Novak pointed out in a column two weeks ago announcing the judicial offensive, “The GOP’s will to fight has seemed lacking.” Sen. Rick Santorum also acknowledged, “From the standpoint of putting up the fight, there’s probably more we could do.”

While attempts at accommodation have fallen flat, the filibusters have taken a toll. Two months ago, after two years of waiting for Senate approval, the eminently qualified Miguel Estrada withdrew from his nomination to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Other potential Supreme Court picks could be pushed aside by the same protracted process.

While both parties are using such judicial battles to arouse their base, control of the Supreme Court is ultimately at stake. While Republicans have realized the gravity of the situation, they have allowed “gentlemen’s filibusters” by Democrats to carry the day. The Senate floor has not seen an all-night filibuster in over a decade.

It should see more in the future, considering the obstruction that Republicans are likely to continue to encounter. Tonight, Republicans will go to the mattresses. They should not hesitate to do so again.

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