Feb. 26, 2003
The Daschle-Leahy Democrats still refuse to accept the results of
the November 2002 election. They are trying to overturn it by blocking
President Bush's judicial nominees.
The media and the Democrats didn't discover until they read the
exit polls after the election that judicial reform was the major issue
that gave Republicans control of the Senate. The pro-lifers and other
conservatives of George W. Bush's core constituency got out their vote
in unexpected numbers and shocked the pundits by electing Republican
U.S. Senators from Missouri, Minnesota, Georgia, New Hampshire, and
When the President made his exhausting pre-election swing around
the country, he always emphasized the need to end the era of activist
judges. This issue resonated loud and clear, bringing thousands of
voters to the polls who have been disaffected with politics.
Republicans are poised to reap the rewards of their win by
confirming the dozens of Bush judicial nominations who were kept
waiting in the wings while the Democrats controlled the Senate. But
now Senator Bill Frist's new majority finds itself checkmated by the
Daschle-Leahy Democrats who are using a filibuster to obstruct the will
of the majority.
The term filibuster derives from irregular military adventures by
buccaneers or pirates seizing something to which they have no right.
Indeed, that describes the Daschle-Leahy Democrats who are seeking to
control the Senate despite their election defeat.
A filibuster in the Senate means making endless speeches and
deploying other obstructive tactics to prevent a vote on a measure
favored by the majority, and persisting in the chatter, hour after
hour, day and night, until the majority abandons efforts to pass the
measure. The Senate hasn't suffered a real filibuster in many decades.
In recent years, the Senate has had only gentleman's filibusters,
that is, the obstructionists talk for a couple of hours and then the
Majority Leader (who controls the agenda) lays the controversial
measure aside and moves on to other business. This painless procedure
persists for several days, and then the Senate takes a vote on cloture,
i.e., a motion to cut off debate and vote on the controversial measure.
Under current Senate rules, it takes 60 votes to approve cloture,
and the Republican majority is only 51.
The Daschle-Leahy game plan is to prevent confirmation of all
Bush's judicial nominations who are even suspected of possibly being
pro-life. That's the pact the Democratic high command has made with
the pro-abortion lobby that provided millions of dollars for Democratic
candidates in election 2002.
Most of Bush's nominees, including Miguel Estrada, have no known
position on abortion. But that's not good enough for the Daschle-Leahy
Democrats who derive their political power and financial support from
the abortion lobby and demand all judicial nominees endorse Roe v.
The Democrats have been eager promoters of letting the federal
courts set themselves up as super-legislatures and rule on important
social, economic and political issues in ways that are contrary to the
wishes of elected representatives in Congress and state legislatures.
Activist judges have undermined the grand design of the Separation of
Powers in the U.S. Constitution, which grants "all" federal legislative
powers to Congress.
Activist court decisions have changed laws passed by legislatures
not only on abortion, but on prayer and the Ten Commandments in public
schools, internal security, pornography, forced busing, racial quotas,
term limits, criminal procedures, welfare payments, election laws, and
even recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The courts have taken
over micromanagement of schools, prisons, hiring standards, and
Many other issues currently hang in the balance. These include
school vouchers and the right to bear arms.
So far, the Republicans have allowed the Daschle-Leahy Democrats
to prevent a vote on Bush nominee Miguel Estrada (who has been waiting
for two years) by the gentleman's filibuster. It appears that Senator
Frist did not have the nerve to call their bluff by carrying out an
implied threat to keep the Senate in session through the Washington's
There are at least 51 and probably 54 votes to confirm Estrada,
and the Republicans should keep the Estrada nomination on the Senate
floor until he gets an up-or-down vote. Let the Democrats talk until
they are hoarse so the whole country can see their obstructionist
It would be a great education for the American people to see the
Senate discussing what the federal judiciary has done to our laws and
culture, and to see Republicans exposing the many activist, out-of-the-
mainstream court decisions on social issues. C-SPAN2 could become the
most watched channel on television.
So, bring on the filibuster! This could be the best move by
Republicans since President Reagan told the air traffic controllers to
return to work or be fired.
Phyllis Schlafly column 2-26-03