Centrist Power? Now That's an 'Extraordinary Circumstance'
The most important part of the filibuster deal is Part II, Section A which states:
Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the Advice and Consent Clause of the United States Constitution in good faith. Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.
Many commentators see this clause as a win for the Democrats because they could conceivably play the “extraordinary circumstances” card at their whim. But that ignores the fact that the Centrist Democrats are required to act in “good faith.” If the Centrist Republicans disagree with the Centrist Democrats, the agreement would apparently become void and the nuclear option would return—only this time, the Republicans could claim moral authority for using it because the Democrats would have “cheated.” So, upon further analysis, the “extraordinary circumstances” clause is actually well-balanced.
In fact, when you think about it, the clause effectively puts the power to accept or filibuster future judicial nominees into the hands of the Centrists. Together they will decide which justices are acceptable and which are not.
If these Senators hang together—and the fact that they made the deal indicates the likelihood that they will—we have what I think is a pretty good standard for judges. The Centrist Democrats will make sure qualified judges aren’t rejected simply because they offend the radical liberal base. And Centrist Republicans will make sure Bush can’t push through truly radical conservative justices.
This is not a reality that will sit well with partisans. But we welcome it. Judicial nominees are in the hands of the Centrists now. Let’s hope the Center can hold.