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The filibuster scam

I think Andrew Zajac's report gets at the truth of this weekend's Supreme Court rhetoric, as does Ben Pershing's. Republicans will threaten a filibuster while dangling an olive branch if President Obama nominates a "moderate," or a judge who refuses to "legislate from the bench. But statements like those are less evidence of a new rawness in the Senate than rote maneuvers made to please the party's base. Republicans simply don't have a credible starting point for a filibuster, a point Rick Santorum made to me this weekend after his speech to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

"I'm someone who has real concerns about filibustering judges, because I just think it's a destructive tactic," said Santorum. "We should try our best to make sure that we hold the nominee accountable for his or her opinions. You know, we spent the better part of a year talking about how the Democrats shouldn't be able to filibuster judges, and that we were going to drop the, quote, nuclear option, if you recall, which was to eliminate the filibuster for judges. And historically we've treated Supreme Court justices with that comity, that they get an up-or-down vote. I guess I would be pretty cautious about using that tactic."

Republicans are relieved, for now, that none of the nominees on the rumored SCOTUS shortlist have the enviable biography or history-making appeal of a Sonia Sotomayor. That doesn't mean they're really ready to bring down a nominee.

By David Weigel  |  April 12, 2010; 9:12 AM ET
Categories:  Supreme Court  
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