There are times when it is important to forget about tactics and to simply take a stand.
The nomination of Sam Alito to the US Supreme Court is, for Democrats in the Senate, one of those times.
It's not just that Alito is conservative. The Supreme Court and the American nation have survived conservative courts.
It's that Alito supports dictatorship.
Out of simply self-preservation, Senators, Democrat and Republican, should be opposing the appointment as judge of a man who has argued, and still argues, that a president has the right to decide on his own how to interpret Acts passed by Congress, and indeed whether to even obey or enforce those acts. It was Alito, as a lawyer in the administration of Ronald Reagan, who conceived and promoted the idea of "signing documents" which would effectively negate whatever Congress intended in passing a bill into law.
Since then, presidents have occasionally issued such "signing documents", but George W. Bush has written some 500 of them, the most recent being his "signing document" declaring that he would not honor the measure in the military procurement bill banning torture.
If the president has quietly opted out of 500 Congressional bills, he has in essence told Congress that it no longer matters.
Senators who allow this process to stand--and who vote onto the Supreme Court a judge who defends such a presidential power grab--have betrayed their office and the people who elected them to office. They must be removed in the name of defending constitutional government.
It's that simple.
Democrats in Congress have been made fools of by the Republican majority over the past five years (longer really), entering into compromise after compromise only to be stabbed in the back.
Now many of them worry that if they filibuster and block the appointment of Judge Alito, that they will somehow be blamed for being "obstructionist."
First of all, that's ridiculous. No Democrats, and few independents, want Alito on the bench. The only people who will be calling Democrats obstructionist will be Republicans, who will never vote Democratic anyway.
But in the end none of that matters.
This is not about Sen. John Kerry, and whether or not he is a viable 2008 presidential candidate. Blocking Alito--and the Democrats, if they stand together, perhaps with a few principled Republicans, have the 41 votes needed to do that--is a matter crucial to the survival of Constitutional government.
Those who care about preserving the Constitution, and slowing the slide to dictatorship, should call the Democratic National Committee (202-863-8000) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (202-224-2447). Tell them you won't be giving a penny to either committee unless the Senate stands firm on a filibuster and blocks this appointment.
For other stories by Lindorff, please go (at no charge) to This Can't Be Happening! .