Dozens of conservatives today sent Senate Republicans a letter, urging them to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
“We call on you…to display leadership, if the nominee merits it, in preparing for the use of the traditional filibuster…so that the debate on the Senate floor is appropriately long and, therefore, suitably catalyzed to the American people.”
The signatories are of a coalition of conservative activists called Third Branch, led by a storied character named Manuel Miranda.In a previous incarnation, the Third Branch Conference was called CEJF, which stands (wouldn’t you know it) for the Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters. That, of course, was back in the days when Republicans ran Washington and the judges being filibustered were conservative.
But before he got into the conservative activist game, Miranda was rabble rousing on the Hill. In 2003, he was an aide to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist who, in an attempt to stifle Democratic attempts to filibuster President Bush’s nominee, hacked into his adversaries’ email accounts and leaked them to conservative publications including the Washington Times.
He was ultimately discovered, fired and subsequently became the subject of a criminal investigation.
Soon thereafter, he started his anti-filibuster group, which put him right back in the spotlight, through the confirmations of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito. By then, according to The New Yorker‘s Jeffrey Toobin, Miranda went silent.
Two years later, though, he re-emerged as the Director of the Office of Legislative Statecraft at the State Department working out of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Miranda was just one scores of unqualified people the Bush administration tasked with the monumental task of rebuilding Iraq–but, like most of the apparatchiks in the Green Zone, he played oblivious to the absurdity. “I had experience on the Hill and in constitutional issues, and it seemed perfect for me,” he told Toobin.
Now he’s resumed the mantle of conservative flamethrower–targeting Sotomayor, and lighting the conservative movement on fire in the process. At least, though, he’s had the sense to change the name of his group to mask his…change of heart. Other groups seem to have lacked that kind of foresight.