Let’s not filibuster Alito.

We should ask our senators not to filibuster U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. We should not provoke the “Nuclear Option.” Yes, the Democrats should grill him in the hearings until he’s nice and golden brown on both sides. Yes, the Left should run ads and go on all the pundit shows to argue our case and do everything within our power to educate the American people about what kind of lunatic Alito really is. The Democrats absolutely should vote against him — every last one of them. But then, we must accept defeat on the vote itself. We must accept it on principal, because it’s the right thing to do.

I base my argument on the premise that there is no such thing as a liberal judge. There are only, in fact, only two types of judges: objective ones and rightwing ideologues. This is why the “Nuclear Option” can only hurt us, even in the long run — even after Democrats regain the majority.

You see, a judge can either allow his own personal religious views to interfere with his objectivity in a case, or choose not to. A judge can allow an old-fashioned conservative way of thinking about civil rights, family, minorities and women to cloud his vision — or not. A judge can interpret the Constitution within the context of our time with an open mind and a full awareness of all the social, economic and technological changes between 1789 and now — or not. Liberalism is inherently unencumbered by such things. A “liberal” judge will always approach cases from a secular point of view and strive for objectivity. A “liberal” judge will approach the court with an open mind and set aside any prejudices because that’s what liberalism is. In this way, there is no liberalism in any court — only objectivity or lack thereof.

If we provoke the Right to invoke the “Nuclear Option”, they will be free to pack the courts with whomever they choose. Sure, when Democrats have the majority, we will, in theory, benefit from the same rule, but what good will it do us, really, when a Democrat appointment is not an ideologue? If and when we do have the majority on our side, will a Democratic president select a different candidate for appointment than he or she otherwise would have, knowing there will be no resistance in the confirmation process? It’s not likely. So, if we’re going to lose this battle anyway, what then will we gain by provoking the Republicans to invoke the “Nuclear Option?” Nothing.

What will we lose? Well, the moral high ground, for one thing. We lose the ability to reason that our appointments are actually good appointments and not just our appointments. Also, with the confirmation process rendered moot by the “Nuclear Option”, we lose the ability and the vehicle with which to make the case against bad nominees, along with the media coverage that goes with it. We lose the ability to credibility say that the Right is willing to do what we are not.

Sure, Republicans will block our court nominees in the future because of a myriad of court decisions with which they disagree. But, the difference is, the Republicans will be wrong. As Democrats, we need to believe in the righteousness of our cause. We have to believe that we’re right and that America will support us because we are right. We have to believe that America will vote Democrat because we’re better, and in order for us to expect this, we have to be better. This means that until we are able to convince them that this is the case, we must be willing to be right — and lose.


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