Wednesday, June 08, 2005

News: Janice Rogers Brown

Yesterday, the Senate voted for cloture on the filibuster concerning the nomination vote on Janice Rogers Brown.

This vote was pre-ordained because of the compromise laid out in the Senate's Memorandum of Understanding. The Memorandum endorsed the senate institution of the filibuster and, in return for seven Republican Senators' promise not to vote for the (illegal) nuclear option, agreed to let certain nominees come to a floor vote. Brown is one of those nominees. The vote to send her to the floor is not, therefore, an endorsement of her qualifications to serve a lifetime appointment on the second highest court in America. Rather, and somewhat ironically in the present context, it is an endorsement of the filibuster, the procedural tool that would have challenged her appointment. Because the compromise affirmed the filibuster as an important tool of building consensus and ensuring that moderate, centrist voices prevail in the Senate, the vote is actually an anti-endorsement of Brown. Why? Because Brown is unacceptable to that moderate, centrist view. The floor vote was mandated by the compromise; the compromise recognized the importance of political moderation; without the compromise, Brown could not have won the support of Senate moderates.

Brown is an extremely troubling nominee for several reasons, but primarily because her legal rulings tend not to respect the law, but rather reflect her own (often inconsistent) personal agenda; this agenda, moreover, lies far outside of mainstream American political, legal, and popular opinion. For these reasons, she was unable to garner recommendation from a mere 60 of 100 Senators. Do we want such a figure making crucial, far-reaching decisions about our laws and lives for the next 40 years? I would suggest that we do not.

The New York times provides a short summary of the vote for cloture.

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