EDITORIAL: Cant cede an inch

fil·i·bus·ter: n. The use of obstructionist tactics, especially prolonged speechmaking, for the purpose of delaying legislative action.

No one wants to be accused of being an “obstructionist.” Unless you are obstructing a devastating action that will take its toll on millions of people. Then it’s a badge of honor.

Congress has approved more than 200 Bush judicial nominees. The filibuster is a tactic, using established Senate rules, to prevent a handful of the most extreme ultra-right nominees from being steamrollered through.

Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, warns of the administration’s effort “to pack the federal courts with out-of-the-mainstream judges who are intent on rolling back decades of progress in the push for equality.”

The Bush administration is using two ultra-right women judges — one white, one African American — as its battering ram to force total compliance with its judicial agenda. Janice Rogers Brown, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and Priscilla Owen, nominated to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, are being touted as models of judicial reason, but their records show otherwise. Brown, in one workplace harassment case, said racial epithets should be upheld as protected by the First Amendment. Owen has upheld the boss’s “right” to discriminate and ruled against workers on safety and health issues.

This fight is about whether or not the far right will dominate the courts for years to come. For the Bush administration, it’s their way or the highway. They are setting the stage for total obedience on what is sure to be an extreme ultra-right nominee for the Supreme Court. Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who has cancer, is expected to retire next month. Two additional slots may open up during Bush’s term.

Getting rid of the Senate’s filibuster rule undermines the “checks and balances” that exist to prevent the country from falling under tyranny.

The Senate showdown may seem far removed from our daily lives. But the filibuster fight is part of the battle against this administration’s ultra-right, pro-corporate agenda. We can’t cede an inch.