Sunday, March 20, 2005

Getting Ready to Go Nuclear

A few days ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent the William Myers nomination to the floor of the Senate, where it may be some time before he is given the traditional and constitutional privilege of an up or down vote on his nomination. Myers is the first of 10 nominees who are being blocked by Democrats for political reasons.

The Senate Democrats, now under Minority Leader Harry Reid, are refusing to close debate on these nominations, therefore requiring a supermajority of 60 votes to confirm a judge, as opposed to the 51 votes required by the Constitution. This is the first time in the history of the United States that a minority party has used the filibuster rule to block judicial nominees – despite the fact that these nominees have majority support and would be confirmed if the vote were allowed to be taken.

The Democrats claim that they are blocking these nominations for a number of reasons.
In public they attack the nominees’ qualifications. For example, critics claim that Federal circuit court judge Terrence Boyle is anti-civil rights and that in 20 years on the bench his rulings have been reversed over 150 times. In reality, as Senator Graham has pointed out, Boyle has only been reversed 92 times – a reversal 7.5 percent well below the national average of 9.7 percent.

In private (as leaked memos reveal) Democrats view Bush’s nominees as “Neanderthals” and “Nazis” and have a special bent against minority candidates – Justice Janice Brown, a black, female Conservative is being blocked, as was Miguel Estrada. (Estrada was described by Senate Judiciary Committee member Dick Durbin as “especially dangerous because he is Latino”). After all, it certainly would be dangerous for Democrats if minority members in a position of power happened to be Conservative. Estrada has now withdrawn his own nomination after too many years of waiting to be confirmed.

Democrats claim that they are justified in their filibustering. For one thing, they say that Republicans did the same thing to Justice Abe Fortas in 1968. This is not true, as Senator Cornyn explains, because “The Congressional Record makes clear that a confirmation vote would have likely failed by a vote of 46-49. Moreover, Fortas's opponents explained repeatedly that they were not filibustering — they just wanted adequate time to debate and expose serious problems with his nomination.” Democrats further claim that since they only blocked 10 out of 214 nominees during the last session, it’s certainly not such a big deal. What they fail to understand is that they don’t have a right to block anyone who has majority support – not 10 judges, not even one, because these nominees have the right to be voted on.

Many Democratic Senators currently filibustering candidates are trapped by their own words – having just a few years back flatly denounced the very things they are now doing. In 1998, Senatory Leahy said that “If we want to vote against somebody, vote against them. I respect that. State your reasons. I respect that. But don’t hold up a qualified judicial nominee. . . . If Senators are opposed to any judge, bring them up and vote against them.” Also in 1998, the well known Senator Ted Kennedy said “Nominees deserve a vote. If our . . . colleagues don’t like them, vote against them. But don’t just sit on them – that is obstruction of justice. Free and full debate over judicial nominations is healthy. The Constitution is clear that only individuals acceptable to both the President and the Senate should be confirmed. The President and the Senate do not always agree. But we should resolve these disagreements by voting on these nominees – yes or no.” Senator Feinstein, 1999: “A nominee is entitled to a vote. Vote them up; vote them down. What this does to a [nominee’s] life is, it leaves them in limbo . . . It is our job to confirm these judges. If we don’t like them, we can vote against them. That is the honest thing to do. If there are things in their background, in their abilities that don’t pass muster, vote no.”

Senate Republicans are now strongly considering what is often called the “nuclear option” – informally changing Senate rules to force a vote on the nominees. This would grant Bush and his judicial selections the Constitutional justice that so many of these Democrats seemed so impassioned about a few years back. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has promised that if Republicans use the nuclear option, the Dems will retaliate by filibustering everything and closing down the Senate to practically all legislation. This of course, would not be a tremendous disaster (except for the Democrats) because the Senate does the least damage when it is not passing any laws. As a political move, the Left’s continued obstructionism can only be termed “dumb.” Just ask former Senator and Minority Leader Tom Daschle. He had Senator Reid’s job just last year, but judicial filibustering made him the first minority leader in 52 years to lose his seat.

14 Comments:

At 11:14 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Blogger Orrin Judd puts it this way: "Enola Gay, you are cleared for take-off."

Beeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyoooooooooooooo...KA-BOOM!!!

 
At 2:58 PM, Blogger SinaMoravej said...

how do u disable anonymous comments in your blog?

 
At 3:08 PM, Blogger leila said...

I made a site just to comment! Sorry I haven't been here for a while, but I am looking foward to your Kyoto Protocol follow up article. And when I find time, I will read this post too.

:)

 
At 5:17 PM, Blogger Kyle said...

I thought it was "nucular"...

 
At 7:48 PM, Blogger Another Bleeding Heart Liberal said...

Nope. It's "Noookyeeelur."

 
At 6:20 AM, Blogger allen said...

You might offer up some mocking variations on the president's name as well. I believe the Nobel Prize Committee is giving some condsideration to a prize for schoolyard insults.

 
At 8:51 PM, Blogger Kyle said...

People are so uptight these days...

 
At 12:52 AM, Blogger Alec Brandon said...

Jesus Christ what is wrong with filibuster, it is a procedural neccesity that you want to change for the sake of half a dozen judges. You can bull shit about majorities all you want, if our government was about majorities it would be like Athens, not like Rome! Go read some Thucydides and see where that got them (and where that may be getting us, though thats a sly reference few will get). So cram it and deal with the process, which is much more important then your prescious judges.

And by the way, Bush has had more judges approved by the Democrats then Clinton did by the Republicans, so stop repeating Bush's talking-points and say something of interest.

 
At 1:12 PM, Blogger allen said...

People are so uptight these days...

Boy, tell me about it. There are some folks whose candidate lost the presidential election five years ago and they still can't let it go.

And Mr. Alec? If you can tear yourself away from admiring your slyness you may notice that the unconstitutional obstructionism of the Democratic Senate minority has everything to do with Republican flinching at the barking of the toothless Democratic dog and nothing to do with Greece, Rome or Thucydides.

The day Bill Frist realizes that the vaunted Senate collegiality is just so much eye-wash is the day he'll shoulder Ted Kennedy out of the way, bring the judges to the floor of the Senate for a vote and this entire issue will recede into history.

 
At 7:54 PM, Blogger Alec Brandon said...

Well the problem with your comment is that Bill Frist, simply can not get it to a vote. The thrust of the argument I made was not that any particular thing should be done; I was saying that the Senate has served an incredibly important function to check the majority, whether Republican or Democratic, over its existence. Filibuster has served a very important function, one that definitively trumps the necessity of having a couple of judges put into office.

Now what is your argument against this Allen, and Dan follows the same fabulous analysis. Well it is a constitutionally right for them to get a vote. Now my response to this is: who cares? I can not stand how both liberals and conservatives like to prove a point by saying, "well it is a constitutional right that this or that happens." Well prove your point with something other than a god damn assertion, the constitution could be wrong (not to mention the constitutionality of it is a lame argument because many assert it is positional, but alas I am not yet a constitutional lawyer).

So I gave an argument that laid out why I thought filibuster and Senatorial procedures were good. Your response: it is a right! My response: I don't care, especially if the filibuster and Senatorial procedures that have given us tons of benefits over the centuries of our republic's existence. So tell me why I should care about the constitutionality, I would love to hear your response? Especially when you have centuries of effective legislation and deal making stemming from the present setup in the Senate and you want to change that for the sake of a couple judges.

So to finish up, if the judges get a vote, I guarantee you that THEY will recede into history, however significantly altering the Senate, will not be forgotten, and will have serious impacts.

-Mr. Alec

 
At 2:56 PM, Blogger Kyle said...

You're right Allen, there are indeed some people who can't accept the fact that their candidate didn't win 5 years ago. Too bad I'm not one of them.

 
At 6:45 PM, Blogger Alec Brandon said...

I have no qualms about an election five years ago. I have no qualms about any election. Very few elections determine all that much and although liberals love to contend that Bush has overthrown the cozy establishment that Democrats had created over their seven decades of power, he has not really changed much of anything. Now if he accomplished something on Social Security (which he won't, notice how no one is talking about that anymore) that would be a whole new deal. But Iraq has had few repurcussions in the foreign policy world, the UN is still here, and actually stronger then ever. Ironically the UN is probably stronger now then it was before the war in Iraq. Doomsday liberals may still be bitter about an election five years ago, but don't avoid my arguement by casting me as one of them. Especially when they are so stupid (as were conservatives who shit their pants in 1992).

 
At 7:33 PM, Blogger Meatsss said...

Mr. Alec, while the filbuster is indeed a tradition of the Senate, it's use is NOT a tradition in the advice and consent of judicial nominees. Only once prior to 2003 has a filibuster been used, that of Justice Abe Fortas. And the cloture vote did not garner him more than 50 votes so if cloture had been achieved, he would still not have been confirmed.
All of the Appeals Court nominees have received more than 50 votes in the cloture vote, but less than 60. The Constitution calls for a majority vote on nominees. No mention is made of needing a super majority vote.
The filibuster is a rule of the Senate, not an article of the Constitution. Four times Sen. Byrd tried to have the rule of filibuster revoked as Sen. Majority leader. He failed to get the requisite 50+1 votes.
So if 51 votes are obtianed to eliminate the filibuster rule for judicial nominations, it will not violate the Constitution, nor does it affect the checks and balance nature of the Senate. If a nominee gets 51 votes for approval, it's an act of the advice and consent of the Senate. If you don't like the results, then you need to get more Senators elected who match your ideology.
The citizens of the U.S. seem to have spoken that they currently prefer having moreRepublicans in the Senate than Democrats. It is majority rule.

 
At 6:00 PM, Blogger unluckyluciano said...

Hey Dan, this blog, unlike Fox is not exactly fair& balanced, but I do like it. You may like my paleocon blog as well.

 

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