President Bush's recess appointment of Charles Pickering to the federal bench is the first hopeful sign that the administration recognizes the seriousness of the judicial issue. As I've said here many times before, there simply is no other political issue right now. The nation is ruled by an unelected, unaccountable, activist judiciary, and no legislation means anything if it can immediately be trumped or rewritten by a moody judge somewhere.
Bush took good early steps by nominating judicially conservative judges to the bench. But the liberals, realizing that their true power lies in the judiciary--through which they can rule without the consent of the American people--have done everything in their power to obstruct the appointments of judges who will read the Constitution as written rather than imposing a "progressive" agenda from the bench.
Until now, the Bush Administration (and Senate Republicans) have, for the most part, simply shrugged their shoulders as if to say "what else can we do?" Recess appointments, which do not require the consent of the Senate (where a supermajority of 60 votes is required to break the ongoing filibusters) are perhaps the most effective way to break the deadlock by simply removing the ability of the minority party to short-circuit the democratic process.
The administration deserves credit for finally waking up on this one, and they need to follow the Pickering appointment with the appointments of some of the most radically, ideologically driven right-wing judges they can find. Such a move would tell Senate Democrats that if they don't like the filibustered nominees, they ain't seen nothin' yet. The Dems might possibly even end their filibusters at that point, in order to avoid a worse-case scenario. Those strict-constructionist conservatives will suddenly look awfully good next to a few radical, activist wingnuts.