Always Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight

Republicans are threatening to try to filibuster Goodwin Liu's nomination to the Ninth Circuit. My memory of the Democratic filibuster of some of Bush's most extreme judicial nominees was that, thanks the echo chamber, the supposed illegitimacy of using the filibuster in that context became a major topic of political conversation for a significant period of time. I doubt we will hear nearly as much from the Democrats or the media on Republicans' use of the same tactic. If Goodwin's nomination goes down to a Republican filibuster, it will be another lesson in how much better the right in this country is than the left at getting their message out. Note that I'm not complaining about using the filibuster to block judicial nominees. I think it is pretty much fair for a minority party to use whatever levers are available to them to foster their agenda, and, in addition, turnabout is fair play. On the other hand, Goodwin is really not nearly as far to the left -- temperamentally or ideologically -- as the right-wing nominees blocked by Democrats during the Bush years. But that's just another lesson in how much better the right is at playing the game, and its why the federal bench is as conservative as it's been in several generations.

Eduardo M. Peñalver is the Allan R. Tessler Dean of the Cornell Law School. The views expressed in the piece are his own, and should not be attributed to Cornell University or Cornell Law School.

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