For most of the people with whom I correspond, the 2004 elections were all about the judiciary. We feel betrayed. We handed the President a Republican majority in both the House and Senate and expected that originalist judges would be appointed to stop the leftward slide of the judiciary. The deal made by the "Gang of 14" was a slap in the face to voters. Seven Republicans agreed to oppose a Senate rule change, thereby ensuring that the Constitutional option would fail 48-52. In exchange the seven Democrats agreed to vote invoke cloture, thereby ensuring 62 votes to shut down a filibuster - except for "extraordinary circumstances", such circumstances to be determined by each individual Senator.
So you can watch the players, here is a list of the 14 by party and Class. Class I comes up for reelection in 2006, Class II in 2008, and Class III in 2010.
Lincoln D. Chafee (R-R.I.)
Mike DeWine (R-Ohio),
Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine)
Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.)
John W. Warner (R-Va.)
John McCain (R-Ariz.)
Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.)
Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.)
Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
Mary Landrieu (D-La.)
Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)
Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii)
Ken Salazar (D-Colo.)
Here's what justices are supposed to do:The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made under their authority; - to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls; - to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; - to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; - to controversies between two or more states; - between a state and citizens of another state; - between citizens of different states; - between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, or between a state, or citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens, or subjects. (Article III, Section 2)
Notice that there is no mention of foreign law, world opinion, unratified treaties, or any other outside source. The basis is the Constitution, current law, and current treaties. Liberal judges who say that "the Constitution should grow" (liberal-speak for "move left") willfully neglect that there is provision within the Constitution for it to grow:The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution,or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate. (Article V)
In that manner, changes and growth of the Constitution can be made "safe, rare, and legal", to borrow a phrase. For an oligarchy of five robed justices to write law from the bench is not the orderly change process envisioned by the fathers. It is a defeat of the representative process outlined in the Constitution. The fight about justices is not about abortion and gays, it is about maintaining the Constitution.
When an individual assumes the office of POTUS, he (or she) takes an oath that goes like this:I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the duties of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. (Article II, Section 1)
President Bush is attempting to do exactly that by appointing originalist judges who will abide by the Constitution instead of twisting it and interpreting it in light of foreign law. The Left cannot stand for that to happen and will obstruct at every turn.
Currently we have a non-filibuster(?) delaying a vote on John Bolton's nomination as Ambassador to the UN. Okay, the agreement was for judicial nominations, but this is indicative of how we might see the votes in those. In the vote to end debate for John Bolton, only two [Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)] of the seven Democrats voted to invoke cloture.
Stay tuned for "extraordinary" circumstances.