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Monday, January 16, 2006
Was Miers a Reaction to the Gang of 14?

John Hawkins argues that the Gang of 14 deal led to the Harriet Miers debacle.

Oh yeah, leaving the filibuster alive hasn't caused any problems whatsoever -- if you forget about a woman by the name of Harriet Miers! Undoubtedly, the filibuster threat helped intimidate Bush into selecting Miers and if not for an almost unprecedented revolt by the base, she'd have been the one on the Supreme Court instead of Alito.

Moreover, of course the Democrats haven't filibustered Alito. It's because they know the GOP has the votes for the nuclear option and they'd rather just keep their powder dry rather than waste it on a futile attempt to stop Alito. But, what if the GOP loses 2 or 3 seats in the 2006 elections and no longer can muster the votes for the nuclear option? Well, then expect Harry Reid and Company to use the filibuster again if another justice on the SCOTUS retires in Bush's term.

John's wrong about Miers, but probably right about the Gang of 14. I don't see why Bush could not have nominated Alito or Luttig or McConnell or Rogers-Brown; under the rules of that agreement they would not have been subject to a filibuster. John seems almost to be trying to find a way to forgive President Bush for the Miers' pick; a noble sentiment but the fact remains that the pick was baffling. I supported her nomination on the principle that the president had the right to pick whom he wanted, but there is no denying that it was not a stellar choice.

As for the Gang of 14, the jury remains out. It did get some of Bush's nominees through and if the Democrats could filibuster their way out of the Alito nomination I don't think there's any doubt they would. Arguably, the deal does not help the Republicans because it took the nuclear option off the table. We can argue that the Republicans unilaterally disarmed and that the moment the Democrats get control of the Senate they will drop the bomb.
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