June 2, 2009
Anti-Filibuster Group Calls for Filibuster (sort of)
A coalition of leaders from conservative groups, including many evangelical activists, recently petitioned Republican Senators to use their filibuster power to lengthen the Supreme Court nomination debate.
The petition carefully avoids any mention of Sonia Sotomayor, or any call to vote against President Obama's nominee. Instead, the coalition asks Republican Senators to "make crystal clear why Americans should believe that Republicans are intelligent defenders of the Constitution, or not." The Third Branch asks that the filibuster "honestly displays the differences between Republicans and Democrats to the American people."
The Third Branch Conference, formed in 2005 by Manuel Miranda, was originally known as "The National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters." Its purpose was to fight attempts to block President Bush's nominations through the use of a Senate filibuster.
Yet, in this letter, the conference calls on Senators to be ready to use a "traditional filibuster." The stated goal is not to block the nominee but to extend the debate so that the public understands the differences in the parties' judicial philosophies.
While some commentators point out the irony of the Third Branch advocating any filibuster of a judicial nominee, Miranda told The New York Times that they still oppose a "Democratic filibuster," which they say attempts to block a nomination forever. Miranda told the Times, "A Democratic filibuster is for the purpose of preventing a vote, as they brandished it, but a traditional filibuster to prolong debate is just fine."
Evangelicals tied to the "Third Branch Conference" letter include Gary Bauer (American Values), Tom Minnery (Focus on the Family), Wendy Wright (Concerned Women for America), Donald E. Wildmon (American Family Association), Mathew D. Staver (Founder of Liberty Counsel), (Traditional Values Coalition) Louis Sheldon, and Andrea Lafferty (Traditional Values Coalition). The coalition also includes libertarians and advocates for tax reform, gun rights, property rights, and life issues.