The Oregon decision should remind them of the stakes. It should remind any Republicans who'd remotely lay claim to the attribute of "moderate." It should give an incentive to challenge the nomination with every tool available, including the filibuster--particularly in a time when Bush has squandered his political standing through his own evasions, incompetencies, and lies. Just as valuable New Deal programs like the National Recovery Administration and Agricultural Adjustment Act were struck down by a court that was the legacy of Presidents Hoover, Taft, and Harding (some of whose justices also opposed progressive taxation, the minimum wage and any attempts at corporate regulation), the confirmation of Alito and Roberts could cast a shadow over American politics for the next thirty years.
As the Oregon opinion reminds us, the threat of Alito's nomination isn't abstract. It's a clear and present danger that can only be stopped by our Senators finding the courage to challenge an administration that respects only power. That means using the filibuster to talk about the assaults by this administration and their judicial surrogates on our democracy and on our ability to address our most urgent common problems. If not now, then when?
Paul Rogat Loeb is the author of The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, named the #3 political book of 2004 by the American Book Association, and of Soul of a Citizen. See www.paulloeb.org