Editorial: Filibuster fiasco

As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. Since the bipartisan agreement by 14 senators that resulted in a compromise deal on the Senate filibuster rule, three extreme right-wing judges have been confirmed for the federal bench. The Senate saved its rule, but the courts took a big hit.

The latest Senate cave-in to President Bush and the religious right is its 53-45 confirmation of William Pryor for the U.S. Court of Appeals. Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called Pryor’s appointment “an American travesty” while Kim Gandy, president of NOW, said it was “a slap in the face to women, people of color, people with disabilities, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and anyone who believes in the separation of church and state.”

Pryor’s appointment tilts the courts further to the right and gives opponents of democracy an advantage in the upcoming Supreme Court showdown.

Pryor called the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.” He also defended the infamous anti-gay Texas sodomy law, which invaded the privacy of adults. Pryor has consistently opposed the separation of church and state. He was a fervent supporter of former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s battle to keep an enormous Ten Commandments monument housed within the state’s Judicial Building. Among Pryor’s inflammatory statements was his assertion to a pro-Moore rally that God had chosen Christians “to save our country and save our courts.”

The debate on the filibuster was difficult. But it’s hard to see how the fight against the ultra-right’s attack on the courts and the Bill of Rights was advanced through this deal. Instead, the extreme right is succeeding in stacking the courts.

As Gandy said, “The ‘gang of 14’ senators brokered a sham of a deal, and tried to fool all of us into believing there would be an advise and consent process on these nominees. [Pryor’s] confirmation guaranteed a monumental fight for the Supreme Court.”

We agree. That fight can only be won with broad unity, grassroots mobilization and struggle.