On judges, the compromise that wasn't

Bill Frist makes noises about meeting Democrats halfway on Bush's judicial nominees, but his offer is all show and no substance.

Published April 29, 2005 12:19PM (EDT)

Has Bill Frist finally heard about the lack of popular support for the nuclear option? The Senate majority leader, who on Tuesday sniffed at Senate Democrats' offer to compromise on certain judicial nominees, backpedaled ever so slightly Thursday and offered up a "compromise" of his own.

Under Frist's proposal, senators would still be able to filibuster nominees for District Court judgeships, but they would have to give up the right to block the president's nominees for higher courts (including, of course, the Supreme Court). Debate over such high court nominations would be capped at 100 hours, after which senators would be required to vote for or against a nominee's appointment.

Not surprisingly, Frist's compromise is hardly any compromise at all. The nomination of District Court judges tends to be less controversial than nominations to higher courts; not one of the 10 judicial nominees that Senate Democrats have blocked thus far is a District Court nominee.

Ralph Neas, president of People for the American Way, said that Frist's maneuver was all for show and was never expected to be taken seriously. "This so-called compromise isn't real," he said. "It's made for TV."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid isn't taking Frist's big idea too seriously, either. "For lack of a better description, it's a big, wet kiss to the far right, ladies and gentlemen," he said. "It's not appropriate."

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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