Digging through my trove of 2008 Presidential election cycle materials, I came across something that struck me as interesting. It's an article by the great Des Moines Register political reporter David Yepsen, dated May 22, 2005, headlined "GOP leaders tie filibuster to caucuses."
According to the article, a bunch of important conservative leaders in the state had signed a letter to prospective 2008 GOP Presidential candidates, demanding their support for a procedural change ending judicial filibusters. "Now is not the time to stand by silently while a band of partisan extremists abuse the Senate rules and twist Senate history in order to obstruct President Bush's qualified nominees," they wrote. "If individual senators oppose specific judicial nominees, then they should vote against them - not block an up-or-down vote."
Yepsen wrote that the letter warned "in effect, that any GOP senator with presidential aspirations who doesn't support ending judicial filibusters will face consequences in the 2008 caucus."
The letter was primarily directed at John McCain and Chuck Hagel, who were both working toward a compromise solution (and, in fact, succeeded). Other Presidential-aspiring Senators at the time -- Bill Frist, George Allen, and Sam Brownback -- were supporting the conservatives' so-called "nuclear option."
These days, of course, the shoe is on the other foot -- well chronicled by my brother on his blog, where he recently noted that "Republicans are still filibustering every single [judicial] nomination."
It's not news that conservatives were against judicial filibusters then and fine with them now. But I had forgotten that it was once so important to them that they made it a Presidential-nomination issue. These were pretty top-level hitters, including the heads of the Christian Coalition of Iowa, Iowans for Tax Relief, Iowa Family Policy Center, Tax Education Foundation, and Iowa Right to Life.