When Is a Filibuster Not a Filibuster?

It looks like Manuel Miranda is back and up to his old tricks.  As I wrote back in 2006:

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.”

Back in 2005, Miranda was routinely drafting letters [pdf], which were signed by dozens of other right-wing leaders, calling on Republican Senators to do away with the filibuster of judicial nominees once and for all:

As the representatives of millions of American voices, we write to ask you to end the judicial filibusters at the earliest possible moment and well before a Supreme Court vacancy should occur.

We believe that short of a compromise that guarantees an up or down vote at the end of debate, the Constitutional Options available to you will serve to honor the Constitution, restore Senate tradition, and protect judicial independence.

We believe that generations of Americans are called at moments to lay foundations for the future, and that this is one such moment.

Well guess what?  Miranda is back with the same coalition but a new letter [PDF] with new demands – namely, that Senate Republicans carry out a filibuster against Sonia Sotomayor.  But not one of those disgusting “partisan” filibusters that the Democrats used, but rather one of those glorioius and noble” traditional” filibusters that protects the Constitution:

A Democratic Filibuster

There has been much distraction in discussing whether the Republican Minority would or could muster a “Democratic filibuster,” i.e., a filibuster used to obstruct a Senate confirmation vote. We recognize that Senate precedent has been altered by the systematic use of the “Democratic filibuster.”

We remind you that the Republican Party Platform, which almost all Republican Senators voted to adopt, establishes that you will not support a “stealth nominee” or a nominee who does not display fidelity to the Constitution.

Even so, no credible person, if any, has called on Senate Republicans to brandish a “Democratic filibuster.” We call on you instead to display leadership, if the nominee merits it, in preparing for the use of the traditional filibuster, not intended to obstruct, together with moderate Democrats, so that the debate on the Senate floor is appropriately long and, therefore, suitably catalyzed to the American people.

As Miranda explains it:

But in an interview, Mr. Miranda said their stance was not a contradiction because they want Republicans to use the procedural tactic for a different purpose than what he called a “Democratic filibuster.”

The Democrats, he said, sought to obstruct the Senate’s work by blocking confirmation votes on certain nominees forever. By contrast, he said, his coalition is seeking what he called a “traditional filibuster,” which would block the confirmation vote for some period of time but not forever.

“A Democratic filibuster is for the purpose of preventing a vote, as they brandished it,” Mr. Miranda said. “But a traditional filibuster to prolong debate is just fine.”

Do I need to point out the irony in the fact that the group once known as the National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters is now explicitly calling for the use of a judicial filibuster?

I didn’t think so.