The recent deal between 14 Democrats and Republicans on the filibuster and judicial nominees leaves much to be desired. Democrats agreed not to block judges appointed by the administration except in “extraordinary circumstances,” while, in exchange, the Republican ultra-right won’t invoke the so-called “nuclear option” — changing Senate rules to end the filibuster.

In fact, the filibuster has only been used in “extraordinary circumstances” to block a handful of the most outrageous extremist Bush nominees —of more than 200 judicial nominations Bush sent to the Senate, only 10 were held up. In contrast, Republicans blocked more than 60 appointments made by Bill Clinton.

The deal has been attacked by progressive groups who are rightly concerned about protecting rights of workers, women, gays and lesbians, environmental protections, civil liberties, and our very democracy — all endangered by the extreme “activist” judges George W. Bush is trying to appoint.

On the other hand, some on the ultra-right are fuming over the deal. GOP leaders apparently backed off from this particular showdown with an eye on public opinion, with polls showing Americans opposed changing historic rules of the Senate aimed at preventing autocratic rule. The deal also reflects concern among some more reality-based Republicans that their party is going over the top in its far-right extremism — evidenced in the unprecedented move by Ohio GOP Sen. George Voinovich, who circulated a letter to his Republican colleagues urging them to vote “no” on Bush’s nomination of “make the facts fit our policy” Bolton the bully.

Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd said of the Senate deal, “The Republic has been saved.” That is not the case — our democracy is still in grave danger. The Senate “compromise” will lead to the installation of a number of the worst of these ultra-right judges — Priscilla Owen to start with. But some of Bush’s dangerous nominees can be stopped. We did it in 1987 with Robert Bork. We can do it again.

More than ever, mass grassroots pressure is necessary to defeat the ultra-right attempt to steal the judiciary branch, and eventually to defeat the far-right altogether. Only then will “the Republic be saved.”

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