Santorum's Spin on the Judicial Compromise

Monday, May 23, 2005

Santorum's Spin on the Judicial Compromise

GOP senators have tried hard to appear as though they support efforts to reach a genuine compromise over judicial nominations. But their public statements invariably contain certain qualifiers and disclaimers -- i.e., we support a "compromise" so long as there's "an up-or-down vote" for all judicial nominees in question.

Here's the latest case in point. On Monday night, moderate senators brokered a compromise on the judicial noms issue. Under the deal, Democrats agreed to allow floor votes on the confirmation of judicial nominees Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor. Democrats did not grant such a vote for two other conservative appeals court nominees -- Henry Saad and William Myers.

In response to Monday night's Senate compromise, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) released this statement:

“Tonight, we saw a positive beginning in the process of voting on judicial nominees. I am pleased that highly-qualified nominees Brown, Pryor and Owen will finally be confirmed in the Senate. Although I am concerned that two nominees are not assured an up or down vote, this compromise is a step forward and all options are still on the table. As I have under Republican and Democratic presidents, I will continue to support an up or down vote for every judicial nominee.”
On the one hand, Santorum calls the compromise "a step forward." On the other hand, he declares that "all options" remain on the table. So what are we to make of this? Is Santorum, a member of the GOP Senate leadership, saying that Frist and company still reserve the right to destroy the filibuster? Santorum's intent is not clear, and perhaps deliberately so.

Although Santorum's statement positions him as supportive of the compromise, it doesn't take a genius to see through that tone. When Santorum says he will "continue to support an up or down vote for every judicial nominee," it sounds like he's trying to have it both ways.

Sure, Santorum says the compromise is a "step forward," but his other words strongly suggest that what he's really thinking may be this: "Three nominees confirmed, two more to go."

It will be interesting to see how each side interprets this compromise.

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