May 25, 2005

Pro-family leaders are expressing outrage over a compromise deal in the Senate that will allow a vote on some of the president's heretofore filibustered judicial nominees, but preserves the tactic for liberal Democrats to use against nominees they deem too conservative.

On Thursday, 14 members of the U.S. Senate -- seven Republicans and seven Democrats -- proudly announced a Senate compromise to end Democratic filibusters against three of President Bush's judicial nominees: Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, and William Pryor.  Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid told reporters that filibusters will continue against two other Bush nominees -- William Myers and Henry Saad.  A vote on Owen could come as early as this week, according to news reports.

Reid also had a message for the White House regarding the agreement.  "Abuse of power will not be tolerated, will not be tolerated by Democrats or Republicans," the minority leader stated.  "And your attempt, I say to the vice president and to the president, to trample the Constitution and grab absolute control is over."

Reid also said he hopes President Bush will consult with senators from both parties if there is a Supreme Court vacancy.  "If the president has an agenda, we're willing to work on his agenda," he said, "but he should have a little more humility, I guess is the word that I'd like to pronounce."

And while Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist observed that the pact "has some good news and it has some disappointing news," he added that a future vote could be taken to change Senate rules if filibusters continue against judicial nominees.  "There is no need at present for the constitutional option," the Tennessee Republican said, "but with this agreement, all options remain on the table, including the constitutional option."

A "return to bad behavior" during his tenure as majority leader, stated Frist, "will bring the Senate back to the point where all 100 members will be asked to decide whether judicial nominees deserve a fair up-or-down vote."

Many pro-family leaders, however, believe the Republicans -- the majority party in the Senate -- should not have agreed to such an arrangement with the Democrats.

Reactions

Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family is blasting the Senate deal, calling it a "complete betrayal."

"This Senate agreement represents a ... betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats," Dobson states in a press release.  "The rules that blocked conservative nominees remain in effect, and nothing of significance has changed.  The unconstitutional filibuster survives in the arsenal of Senate liberals."

The pro-family leader notes that had such an agreement been in place during earlier confirmations, conservative jurists such as Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist would never have made it to the Supreme Court.

Gary Bauer of American Values says the Senate compromise makes it "more likely that radical social change will continue to be forced on the American people by liberal courts committed to such things as same-sex marriage, abortion on demand, and hostility to religious expression."

"I think it's very sad and very, very disappointing," Bauer says of the arrangement.  "The number-one principle here is that every judicial nominee deserves an up-or-down vote -- and because of these senators who got all weak in the knees, that principle for now has been lost."