The Corner

Why The Senate Judiciary Committee Needs Strong Leadership

This, from the New York Times editorial board this morning: “The Democrats’ last redoubt in Washington–their minority outpost in the Senate–became considerably shakier last Tuesday with the fall of their leader, Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, and the loss of a total of four seats. But it remains the party’s best chance of exercising some form of political relevance in the second Bush administration, by using its minority power selectively to filibuster objectionable legislation and unacceptable presidential nominees, and by continuing to make alliances with the dwindling band of Republican moderates.”

We’ve had our issues with Hatch over the years, and will in the future, but he has proven himself as a leader on judges–this today’s suggestion on NRO to waive his term limit (which is not meant to dis anyone who would otherwise be in the running as an alternative to Specter, just meant to float a relatively easy option). Specter should not be able to get himself out of this mess of his own making, especially at a time like this–when Democrats are focused like a laser on a) obstructing b) legislating through the courts. As Ramesh and Stanley have noted (and others will), there is more at stake here than abortion, and our opposition to a Specter chairmanship is about more than a signal issue. It’s about temperament. Specter gave us a loud warning last week about what his is.

What I have been hearing from the Hill is: you (you, who have written and called) have shaken things up. You have put Specter on defense. You’ve gotten senators talking and you’ve got pressure on Specter. More than one person, last night and again this morning, has said that the question now is, does the pressure keep on. If it does, they might act against Specter. If it dies, Welcome Chairman Specter.

So, to answer the question people have posed: Yes, you are making a difference. And that is the case whatever happens.

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