As the Senate continues to battle over the fate of filibusters, Americans are sounding off on their opinions. Republicans insist the job of the Senate is to pass well-qualified nominees without obstruction while Democrats, the party of the progressives and the "living Constitution," suddenly turn to history to argue old Senate rules should remain in place.
Senate Republicans have marked next Tuesday to be the showdown. Unless a compromise is made before the deadline, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will force a test vote on Texas Judge Priscilla Owen's nomination to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
A new Associated Press-Ipsos poll was released yesterday and it provides a clear image of what the masses expect of their judiciary. Results of the poll reflect the recent presidential election and it's safe to say most of America wants to see us move in a more rightward direction than Left.
Out of 1,028 respondents, comprised of mostly Democrats, 47 percent to 39 percent favored conservative judges over liberals. On the subject of the Supreme Court, 52 percent said they felt comfortable that President Bush would pick the right kind of justice while 46 percent lack sufficient comfort in the president.
Here are some other results from the poll I had to dig up that weren't reported in the article, for reasons you can decide for yourself depending on your belief of the bias in the media:
- Thirty percent of those polled found federal judges to be too liberal while 24 percent say they're too conservative. Thirty-seven say that judges are well-balanced. Fifty-one percent believe judges base their decisions on the rule of law while 43 say personal beliefs and ideology get in the way.
- Almost half, 47 percent, want President Bush to nominate conservative judges and 39 percent want liberal ones to fill the bench.
So there they are. The people have spoken and we'll have to see what status the Senate is in when next week's showdown occurs.
As for Democrats hoping their party retains the filibuster tool, the prognosis is doubtful.
If Owen's nomination doesn't get the 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster, then Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will have the presiding officer, most likely Vice President Dick Cheney who is the Senate president, declare filibusters illegal for Supreme Court and federal appellate court nominees.
Yes, it can happen that easily.
With 55 seats, Republicans would be in firm control of the Senate when it comes to judicial nominees. They can afford five defections if all 100 members vote and still win assuming Cheney's tie-breaking ability goes their way.
Democrats should abandon their arguments and focus on something they can gain ground in. While both sides claim they have American support (a slight majority still supports filibusters), Dr. Frist looks ready to proceed with plan wonderfully dubbed the nuclear option.
It's no surprise Americans want more conservative judges. They understand the role of black robed priests is to interpret the law and nothing more. With conservatives you're more likely to get a stricter and narrower interpretation than with liberals.
I've been pretty moderate on the filibuster issue until recently, when my last nerve was struck after a Nebraska judge threw out a constitutional amendment affirmed by 70 percent of the people. Such activism, in my view, is dangerous to a republic and such much power should never be afforded to an unaccountable politician.
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