The pact, signed by seven Democrats and seven Republicans, says a judicial nominee will be filibustered only under "extraordinary circumstances." Key members of the group said yesterday that a nominee's philosophical views cannot amount to "extraordinary circumstances" and that therefore a filibuster can be justified only on questions of personal ethics or character.
Seriously, does anyone actually believe any of the 14 Senators are going to feel bound in any way by the deal? It has been obvious from the beginning that "extraordinary circumstances" is an empty term, and there is little doubt that any of the filibuster compromisers could easily cook up some reason to find "extraordinary circumstances."
As for whether "philosophical views" constitute "extraordinary circumstances," remember that those who attacked Bork simply redefined their philosophical objections as questions about his temperament. And Estrada was filibustered because of his unwillingness to respond to unreasonable and overreaching document requests.
The only silver lining in all this is that the filibuster deal itself was an unconstitutional abdication of the Senate's advice and consent obligation in the first place, so if this provides the triggering event for its demise, so much the better.