Sometime in the next few weeks, the United States Senate will hold the
most important vote of this generation. It is that important for the same reason
that last year’s election was the most important one of our generation. As an
election season billboard said, "Think of the Supreme Court!"
The vote I’m talking about will affect how easily the Senate can put
the right men and women onto the Federal Courts, and ultimately the Supreme
Court. It is a vote regarding Senate rules, and, simply put, will determine whether nominees who already have the support of a majority of
the Senators can be voted on.
You may ask why this is even an issue, especially if the judicial
nominees in question already have the support of the majority of the Senate.
The United States Constitution says that the President nominates
people to serve on our Federal Courts, and that the US Senate is to give "advice
and consent." In other words, the President presents these nominees to the
Senate, and then the Senators vote "yes" or "no" as to whether that nominee will
serve as a Federal Judge. The same process is used when there is a vacancy on
the US Supreme Court, and such a vacancy may occur within the next couple of
The President has been nominating people for the Federal courts, and
there have been votes and confirmations. But there is an entire group of
well-qualified nominees who, in the judgment of Senate Democrats, are too "far
right" for their liking.
Of course, these Democrats have the right to think what they want
about the nominees, and they have the right to vote against them. They also have
the right to try to persuade other Senators to vote against them.
But they are not content with that. They now want to claim the right
to prevent a vote one way or the other. And they do that by prolonging
debate on the nominee indefinitely, so that the debate never closes and the vote
is never taken. This process is called a "filibuster."
Now filibusters do have their place. There may be legislation, for
example, that the minority party objects to. A filibuster can be used to
indefinitely prolong debate on the legislation. This gives the minority some
leverage, so that they do not lose their power altogether.
But while filibusters have an appropriate place in legislative
debates, we are witnessing, for the first time in history, the use of the
filibuster technique to block the "advice and consent" process of the Senate for
judicial nominees, when the nominees already have the support of the majority
of Senators. To the extent that the Senator is deprived of a vote, the
people who elected that Senator are deprived of their voice at the highest
levels of government. If this can be done now with Federal judges, it will
certainly be done with a Supreme Court Justice.
Federal judges have removed "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance,
allowed child pornography as protected free speech, redefined marriage to
include same-sex relationships, struck down bans on partial-birth abortion, and
contradicted the will of the people in many other ways. Many Senators want this
to stop, and they can stop it by confirming judges who know the difference
between applying the law and imposing their political preferences on the people.
The vote that is coming up in the next few weeks is designed to end
the abuse of the filibuster and provide a fair up-or-down vote on judges. This
is a unique opportunity to tell your Senators you care about the unpredecented
and unfair filibustering of President Bush s nominees. Senators need to know
that you care about this issue and are watching how they vote.
ACTION: You can reach your senators through the Capitol Switchboard
today, or any day, at (202) 224-3121. Just dial this number and
ask to be transferred to your Senator s office. You ll have to call twice in
order to place a call to each of your two Senators. (You can get direct contact
information for both of your home state Senators at the website,
well.) If you call the main switchboard, simply ask for the Senator you are
calling, and when that Senator s office answers, explain that you support a
return to the constitutional tradition of a fair up-or-down vote on judicial
nominees and an end to the filibuster of judges. We recommend that you also call
the local state office of your Senator with the same message. It is even more
powerful if you pay a visit to the local state office to register your concern.
SUGGESTED MESSAGE: "Hello, I m
a voter from (NAME OF YOUR STATE) and I support the constitutional option to end
the filibuster of judges. Please tell Senator (NAME OF YOUR SENATOR) that every
one of President Bush s judicial nominees should be brought to the Senate floor
for a fair up-or-down vote. Thank You."