Birth Of A Nation 2

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On February 14th, the President sent his loyal supporters a secret Valentine's Day present by quietly re-submitting to the Senate Judiciary Committee the names of 20 of his arch-conservative cronies for appointment to the federal bench. You might wonder why, in Heaven's name, Bush isn't embarrassed to be re-nominating individuals already rejected once by Congress?

The answer lies in his gleeful, post-election declaration of a "mandate," followed by that ominous promise to spend his political capital exactly as he sees fit. You see, this go-round, he figures he's got something he didn't have last time: numbers.

As U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, on the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer noted: "If they were to go forward, the America we know, the changes we have made to making America a more fair and humane place, would be gone; and we'd go back to the 1890s where those who had the power got their way completely... One of the judges that they nominated said, 'God's gift to white people was slavery."

Previously, Democrats valiantly banded together to block Bush's most extreme right-wing nominees by resorting to a strategic filibuster. But given the Republican gains reflected in their now occupying 55 seats in the Senate, Majority Leader Bill Frist now only needs to convince 5 Democrats to cross the aisle to squash any dissent.

The Tennessee Senator has even suggested that his majority might simply resort to re-writing the federal laws on filibuster, if they find themselves meeting with further resistance to his party's agenda. After all, Republicans control both Houses, and Bush is certain to rubber-stamp any piece of legislation which comes across his desk.

Did you know that he's the first, full-term President in 176 years to never use his veto power? Of course, he hasn't had to, since the silenced opposition party has been unable to get a single bill passed on its own. In fact, the likely trend, tragically, is that more Democratic representatives will begin to compromise beyond recognition in order to attain a few "pork barrel" crumbs for the benefit of their constituents back home, ala recently-retired, Democratic defector Zell Miller.

Be forewarned, such selling-out to the detriment of the greater good will come at a significant social cost. For if any 5 Blue State senators decide that best way to weather the Red State steamroll is to approve Bush's scary judicial appointments, we may as well have Federal judges trade-in their black robes for white sheets and hoods. Among the proposed appointments are Terrence Boyle, a judge who has twice been overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court for decisions allowing the disenfranchisement of Black voters in North Carolina. Then there's Defense Department attorney William Haynes, the legal mind behind the Administration's decision to no longer abide by the Geneva Conventions in its interrogation of prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

And how about Alabama Judge William Pryor? He advocates imprisoning homosexuals for consensual sex. Or California jurist Janice R. Brown, a vocal critic of Social Security who has compared the program as a  socialist revolution? So, don't kid yourself into believing that how these 20 District and Circuit slots are filled isn't significant. Consider this a fair warning that Bush plans to pack the courts with extremists whose lifetime appointments will give them free rein to squash human rights for years to come.

Black Star columnist Lloyd Kam Williams, Jr. is a member of the NJ, NY, CT, PA, MA & US Supreme Court bars. For more reports please click on "subscribe" on the homepage for the newsstand edition of the newspaper or call 212-481-7745

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