After months of headlines and behind the scenes deal making, the filibuster in the United States Senate is safe. For now.
Fourteen Senators reached a last minute compromise Monday that allows the minority party – the Democrats – to keep the filibuster. This age-old tactic uses extended debate to block issues from coming to a vote on the Senate floor. It has traditionally allowed the minority party to keep the majority party from running roughshod over the Senate with unchecked power.
The filibuster win is a small victory compared to the battles that are surely ahead. The far-right is hungry for more power and LGBT families are in their sights.
We are hopeful the American people are starting to wake up and realize that the people currently running the government do not have their best interests at heart. Banning the teaching of evolution in schools does not help strengthen education. Banning marriage for gays and lesbians does not make the institution of marriage stronger. Fixing evidence to justify starting a war in Iraq and covering up evidence of torture and abuse of prisoners does not make America safer. Giving huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people and corporations does not make the average American family more secure financially. Dismantling social security does not make the future more solid for this nation’s elders.
Which, of course, is exactly what the Senate Republicans, or at least the right-wing ones currently in charge, want to see happen. The filibuster compromise throws a wrench in their plan to ram through lifetime appointments of ultra-conservative, radical judges determined to undo decades of advancement for all Americans, using the scapegoating of LGBT Americans to advance their radical agenda.
The good news is that presidential hopeful, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) is not happy with the compromise. In fact, Republicans who actually have a shred of integrity, including Sen. John McCain and Sen. John Warner, went behind his back to broker this compromise deal.
The bad news is that three of the most odious judges – Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers-Brown, and William Pryor – are going to be allowed an up or down vote. None of these nominees deserve lifetime appointments making decisions that will impact the lives of everyday Americans for years to come. All have shown to be anti-LGBT. Issues of civil rights, consumer protections, and environmental law are unlikely to do well under these judges.
So now the focus has shifted from saving the filibuster to preventing these judges from being confirmed.
In the meantime, the Democrats, by saving the filibuster from Frist’s “nuclear option,” will be able to use it on higher court nominations like the Supreme Court. Not that the lower courts don’t matter. Oh, how they do. Pryor, for example, was the deciding vote that upheld Florida’s ban on gay adoptive parents.
The goals of the right-wing conservatives are not the goals of fair minded Americans, which is why the current battle over judicial nominees is so very important. Remember the fight is not over and it will not be easy. Stay informed and continue to let your elected representatives know how you feel about these radical judges under consideration for lifetime appointments.