Manuel Miranda: A One-Man Army

Ever since losing his job with Sen. Frist a few years ago, Manuel Miranda has refashioned himself as a one-man, right-wing force to be reckoned with on judicial nominations.  Even before stepping down, Miranda was working behind the scenes, orchestrating the GOP’s 2003 “reverse filibuster” protest.  

After a short-lived disgrace caused by his run-in with basic ethics, Miranda returned to the scene with the launching of the National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters, since renamed the Third Branch Conference.  Since then, Miranda has been behind just about every right-wing grassroots effort to force confirmation of President Bush’s judicial nominees. 

As the original name of his organization suggests, Miranda, along with dozens of other right-wing leaders, pushed Senate Republicans hard to eliminate the use of the filibuster via the “nuclear option.”  Though the effort failed because of the emergence of the “Gang of 14,” Miranda pressed on, writing dozens of columns calling for the confirmation of John Roberts and, according to The Hill, almost single-handedly killing Harriet Miers’ nomination.

Despite Republican control of the Senate leading to the confirmation of hundreds of federal court judges and two Supreme Court justices, Miranda refuses to let up, demanding confirmation of just about every Bush nominee, including William Haynes and William Myers.

Miranda even recently announced that his organization would soon begin “scoring” senators on the performance on judicial nominations, tracking confirmation and cloture votes, as well as “obstruction” tactics and ranking senators accordingly.  

Now, Miranda has announced that he is taking the fight a step further, seeking a discharge petition on the nomination of Terrence Boyle in an attempt to overcome Sen. Frist’s failure to schedule a vote on the nomination.

Miranda, Frist’s former counsel in charge of plotting strategy on judicial nominees, said that if 16 senators sign a cloture petition on Boyle’s nomination they could force a floor vote since the Judiciary Committee has already discharged the nomination. He said that several Senate leadership aides have been informed of the plan.

But a Senate leadership aide said a cloture petition would not be practical for forcing a floor vote if Frist objects. The aide said senators could only force a vote if Boyle’s nomination were already pending on the floor, adding that it’s the majority leader’s prerogative to call up a nomination.

Miranda acknowledged it would be difficult to force a vote on Boyle without Frist’s consent but said the effort would emphasize conservatives’ position.

“It will be an expression of our frustration,” he said.

Considering that the Third Branch Conference seems to be little more than a one-man show operating out of Miranda’s home – it doesn’t even appear to have a website – it has managed to become one of the Right’s primary weapon in the battle over judicial nominations.

That is a pretty amazing rebirth for a man who lost his high-powered job for basically reading other people’s mail and leaking it to the press.