Skip to comments.Senate Analysis: Getting to 60 On Judicial Nominations in The New Senate
Posted on 11/03/2004 7:37:13 AM PST by crushkerry
As it stands now, the "Writing Partner Who Wishes to Remain Nameless" was correct in every one of the 10 competitive Senate races, meaning that the GOP now has a 54-45-1 (in reality a 54-46) advantage in the Senate. Given the fact that much great legislation has died here over the last 4 years under the leadership of the recently departed prissy little geek Tom Daschle, we think it's possible that some really amazing things could happen over the next 2 years.
Included in this are drilling in Alaska, the extension of tax cuts, social security and tort reform, as well as a myriad of other issues that have gone to die in the Senate graveyard. But perhaps the most important long term impact can be placing conservative judges on the federal bench, and perhaps as many as 3 seats on the Supreme Court, for years to come.
And herein lies the gray cloud. For all the beauty of last nights election victories, the biggest mistake George Bush may have made in 2004 is helping Arlen Specter win Pennsylvania.
Before looking at the dreadful impact of Specter's coming Judiciary Committee Chairmanship, it's helpful to look at the Senate overall and see if it would be possible to get a filibuster proof majority that would at least allow the President's nominees to come to the Senate floor for a vote. Granted, many of the northeastern RINO Senators, as well as Chuck Hagel and John McCain have thwarted various pieces of the Bush agenda, all GOP Senators have voted to break the Democrats filibuster and allow a floor vote on Judges.
Up until this time, the Daschle Democrats have put up unprecedented roadblocks on the President's more conservative nominees like Miguel Estrada and Carolyn Kuhl. Knowing that these nominees had the votes to win on the floor, they used the filibuster to prevent them from even being voted on. With 48 Democrats and Jim Jeffords, it was near impossible to get to the magic 60 votes to break the filibuster.
But the landscape has changed dramatically after last night. So start with 54 votes to break the filibuster. Now, we have to mine for the other 6 votes. While last nights wins certainly helped numbers-wise, a look at the remaining 46 Democrats (Jeffords is one) shows that there are not as many opportunities to "cherry pick" Democratic votes here, as most of those remaining are not from "Bush states". So who are the best Senators we can pressure to join the good guys when it comes to breaking judicial nominee filibusters?
1. Ben Nelson (D-NE). Nelson has shown a willingness to vote against his party on filibuster nominations in the past. Add that to the fact that he's among the dwindling number of conservative Democrats in the Senate, and from a strong "red" state, and he looks like vote #56.
2. David Pryor (D-AR). Again, Pryor has shown a willingness on some issues to break with his party. Arkansas once again became a "red" state, where values matter. Pryor won't want the "obstructionist" label hung around his neck in 4 years. Whereas before his vote didn't make a difference, the heat on him will get awfully high if he could become the 60th vote on a conservative judicial nominee. We don't think that'll play well back in Arkansas.
3. Bill Nelson (D-FL). While this "Nelson" has voted to filibuster nominees in the past the landscape in Florida has changed. It is now a solidly "red" state, and with the increase in voting among Evangelical Christians in Florida, he may be afraid of having the "values" issue wrapped around his neck come election time. Also keep in mind that he voted against filibustering Miguel Estrada. Granted, that may have been because of the Hispanics in Florida, but it does show he can be swayed.
4. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Old Mary has voted over the last year to keep filibusters of judicial nominees going. But remember something, she was strong armed by the Dems into changing her mind on the Miguel Estrada nomination, even when she ran campaign ads on Spanish stations saying she supported him. Futher, she claims to have changed her mind on Judge Owen because she was offended by an advertisement. Now, Landrieu will be forced to look at the political landscape in Louisiana, which just elected its first Republican to the Senate in forever (without a runoff). As with Pryor, it will be political suicide for her to refuse to be the 60th vote.
5. Evan Bayh (D-IN). Another level headed Democrat from a red state, Bayh certainly has aspirations in 2008. He's one of the few Democrats who can appeal to people outside of the "blue" states. Since "values" is the issue that is killing the Democrats in "red" states, his support of conservative judicial nominees could give him crossover appeal. Also keep in mind that a Democratic memo indicated that Ted Kennedy had to strong arm him into not voting for cloture on judges. Now that he's faced with being in the minority forever, such tactics and threats of retribution if the Dems become a majority don't work. The only downside is that if he wants to run for President, voting for these judges will dry up all source of funding from the left wing lunatics like Nan Aaron, NARAL, and the like.
6. Joe Lieberman (D-CT). Freed from the shackles of national ambitions, Lieberman may no longer feel the need to placate the Democratic base from whom he has to raise money. At heart, Joe's a fairly socially conservative guy, and we have hope that he may be able to do the right thing and get back to being the guy who agrees with Bill Bennett rather than Al Gore.
Other possibilities include Robert Byrd, who comes from a conservative state, and is feeling the heat of a possible competitive race against Shelly Capito, has shown willingness to vote for conservative judges in the past. Ken Salazar, freshman from Colorado is another possibility, but being a new member he dare not got against his party so early, with reelection a full 6 years away.
Casting a shadow over all of this, however, is the prospect of Arlen Specter as Judiciary Committee Chairman. He has openly pledged to block what he considers "extremist" judges from ever coming on the bench. Unfortunately the Senate will not remove him from this position despite such hostility. While it is true that a nominee can be brought up on the floor, even if not voted out of committee, the clubby Senate may be loath to do so. However, at this time we're not sure if given the new makeup of the Senate, the GOP's advantage on the Judiciary Committee will grow from the +1 advantage they have now. That would certainly help.
The irony of all this is that if not for President Bush's help Arlen Specter would not have even made it to November. A visit by the President just days before the primary is widely considered to have been the difference in Specter's razor thin win over Pat Toomey. Specter, as pompous a gasbag as you will find, is of course, being his usual ungrateful self and spitting in the President's face.
Let's hope that the President doesn't live to regret the mistake of coming to Arlen Specter's rescue.
What about Martinez?
Judge Ann Coulter
He's part of the 55.
I thought it was 55-44-1.
Close races were all wins (or looking good) last time I checked:
Martinez (close, but ahead.)
Murkowski (close / ahead)
CNN shows 53-44-1, waiting on FL and AK
Yeah, I don't get why they haven't called the race for him. 70,000 vote lead he has.
Secretary of Hotness Ann Coulter
Great article. Will start visiting your website on a regular basis.
it would be a shame to cover those legs with that long robe. Hey, mini-judical robes!!!!! Just don't let Ginsberg or O'Conner wear one.
Has Puff Daschle conceded yet?
It'll be time for the Nuke Option in January '05 if you ask me.
They don't need 60.
All they need is Bush calling them out as obstructionists and they'll be fired in 2006.
Cheney also has nothing to lose by going nuclear and demanding an up or down vote.
I'm certainly not going to worry over this....
Murkowski is a "hold", not a pick up.
Landrieu is not up for reelection until 2008, so she will be a lost cause until at least 2007 when she feels it may be necessary to try and moderate herself.
Why? Well, Nevada has just gone for Bush--again--and is more or less a GOP state (GOP has the governorship, one of two US Senate and two of the three Congressional seats).
What's my point? Reid as Minority Leader would have to, as Daschle did, slide to the Left politically as a national figure in the party, and be subject to being targeted by the GOP in 2010 (if he runs again) as being "out of touch" with a pretty GOP red state.
Do the Dems want to risk, six years from now, having yet another very high profile member of their leadership go down to defeat? Why not select a similarly experienced and respected Dem (I know, the phrase "respected Dem" looks very odd) from a safer seat?
If the 'Rats in the Senate want to become Democrats and have a future as a party, they would make Bayh their new minority leader.
She may tougher to beat then, since 2008 is a presidential election year and the Landrieus can and will GOTV in New Orleans.
On the other hand, either Bobby Jindal or Buddy Roemer should give her a real run for her money.
Bush will have another 2 more at least.
Scotus appts by Bush AND 4 years of Federal bench appointments could be as important as winning the war on terror for the future of America, make no mistake, this is hugh.
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