Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

The Hard Spin


An e-mail out today from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee:

By now I’m sure you have heard about the last night’s historic agreement that ended the Senate standoff over the use of the filibuster and protected our rights to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee. But if you ask me, the media has been missing the aspect of this agreement that will have the longest-lasting impact: Bill Frist lost today. Badly.

The Republican Leader put his reputation on the line. Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, and the rest of the right wing fringe were counting on him to succeed in his effort to abuse his power and change the rules. They dreamed of the day when every right wing judge would get a spot on our federal courts every time. He has failed.

Frist’s right wing allies are furious that he could not deliver on his promises. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, called the deal a “betrayal” and said that he and his conservative allies share “disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment.” He vowed that his followers would remember on Election Day those who “betrayed their trust.” Bill Frist needs the right wing power brokers on his side to win the 2008 presidential primaries. His hopes for victory just took a serious hit.

It gets better. Seven moderate Republican senators abandoned Frist’s efforts to change the rules to appease the right wing. His grip on power over Senate Republicans is slipping. For Bill Frist, the nuclear option has blown up in his face.

The bottom line of this entire affair is that we upheld our long history of checks and balances against absolute power and we held onto our right to block George Bush’s nominees to the Supreme Court. Seven Republican senators have agreed to oppose any future attempts to trigger the nuclear option.

Besides, when Bill Frist tries to pull these kinds of shenanigans around a Supreme Court nominee, he’ll look even more desperate and further out of the mainstream than he does now.

Bill Frist lost today. He lost his hold on his right wing base and he lost his hold on Senate Republicans. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Anne Lewis

KJL: So they’re saying Frist lost, right? Wish they had emphasized that point, just to be sure.


Subscribe to National Review