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It’s good to know where politicians stand on important issues. Senate Democrats say they are filibustering Miguel Estrada’s appeals-court nomination because they don’t know enough about him. But wait, this week they said they will filibuster Priscilla Owen’s nomination because they know everything about her. Nailing down a principle here is like nailing Jello to a tree in July.

Miguel Estrada received the American Bar Association’s highest “well qualified” rating. He appeared alone before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year for nearly seven hours, answering more than 100 questions. He properly refused to discuss his personal views on issues or precedents likely to come before him as a judge. Only two Judiciary Committee Democrats asked any follow-up questions, only one senator asked for a private meeting with Mr. Estrada, and Democrats refused an offer of an additional hearing. Now they filibuster because they don’t know anything about the nominee.

Priscilla Owen received the American Bar Association’s highest “well qualified” rating. She appeared alone before the Senate Judiciary Committee for nearly seven hours, answering more than 100 questions. She properly refused to discuss her personal views on issues or precedents likely to come before her as a judge. Democrats actually objected when Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, scheduled a second hearing for Justice Owen. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said on April 8 that this was an “unprecedented” hearing that did not “change the facts before us.” Now Democrats filibuster because they know everything about the nominee.

Is there a standard in the house? Is there a principle anywhere in the vicinity? It should be obvious by now that, on orders from their leftist constituency groups, Senate Democrats have only one goal. They do not care about an independent judiciary, they do not care about the rule of law. They want a judiciary that will, by hook or by crook – by any means necessary – deliver the leftist political agenda. Judges who even might respect the American people, their values and their decisions are unqualified “extremists” and “activists” and subject to filibuster.

Speaking to a group of Iowa Democrats on April 8, presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., promised that, if elected, he would nominate to the Supreme Court only supporters of abortion rights and the Roe vs. Wade decision. There’s that agenda again. But, Sen. Kerry said, “that is not a litmus test.” It is not a litmus test, he said, to demand fidelity to something already said to be “a constitutional right.” It would be a litmus test, however, to seek judicial nominees who would “undo a constitutional right.” In other words, seeking judges who agree with me is not a litmus test; seeking judges who disagree with me is a litmus test. Figure that one out.

I don’t suppose anyone asked Sen. Kerry if it would have been a litmus test to seek the very same kind of judge – the kind unwilling to find unwritten “rights” in a written Constitution – in 1972, before Roe vs. Wade. Before there was a “constitutional right” to “undo.” Probably not.

The filibuster against Miguel Estrada, and now the filibuster against Priscilla Owen, are being led by Sen. Leahy, who said in June 1998 that he would “fight against any filibuster on a judge.” They are being led by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who said in June 1995 that senators should oppose nominee filibusters “even if they intend to vote against the nomination itself.” They are being led by Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who in June 1995 condemned nominee filibusters. He said that preventing nominees from receiving a fair vote “will make it even more difficult to attract good, qualified people to public service.”

Anti-filibuster senators leading filibusters. Filibusters because we don’t know enough, filibusters because we know everything. It’s a litmus test if you are conservative, but not a litmus if you are liberal. Yes means no, “alone” doesn’t mean alone, the Constitution is whatever the liberal judges say it is.

They say if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. The politicizing of justice, sacrificing the rule of law on the altar of politics, is putting liberty itself at risk.

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