Skip to comments.Dems Intend to Filibuster Bush's Judicial Nominees ... Again
Posted on 12/01/2004 6:40:51 PM PST by kattracks
The other day I was interviewed by a magazine which very closely follows what is happening in the Congress.
The reporter wanted to get my views on whether the President would nominate the same kind of judges he did during his first term. I said that I believe that the President firmly believes in the sort of judges he has put forth and I saw no reason why he would change in his second term.
The reporter, with whom I speak frequently, told me he had just interviewed Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Minority Leader for the 109th Congress, and other Democratic leaders as well. He said they indicated that they were prepared to filibuster the Presidents judicial nominees just as they did in the last Congress.
I said that would make no sense. They lost four seats in the 2004 elections. It is known that there was some grumbling in the Democratic Caucus at having to filibuster all those judges in the 108th Congress.
The then-Minority Leader, Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, assured his colleagues that filibustering nominees was a winning strategy that would help the Democrats take back the Senate, and that in the next Congress they would not have to filibuster nominees because the nominees would never see the light of day.
That strategy lost. There will be four fewer Democrats in the 109th Congress then there are for the 108th Congress. Moreover, Daschle himself was unseated, the first time since 1952 that a Senate Party Leader was toppled. I postulated that Senators on their way to vote would see the scalp of Daschle hanging up in the corridors of Congress. They would look at that and say, I dont want to be next.
The reporter told me that Reid and his colleagues see things very differently. They think that the election of the new Senators in the South has nothing to do with judges. They think that Daschles defeat also had little to do with judges.
They apparently believe that they lost all five contested seats in the South because these are Red States (States which the President carried in this past election) and these new Senators were just carried along with President Bush.
As to Daschle, South Dakota has a history of tossing out its Senators after three terms, plus, according to these Democrats, there were many local issues which contributed to the Daschle defeat.
I guess we could call this Democrats in denial.
First of all, the issue of judges was very prominent in the Daschle-Thune race. Senator-elect John Thune raised the judges issue continually in his brilliantly orchestrated campaign. So did President Bush.
President Bush never gave a speech in this campaign without bringing up the Senates blocking his nominees. Reporters who covered the President tell me it was one of the best applause lines in his standard stump speech.
The other line which got thunderous applause was the Presidents support of a Constitutional Amendment on marriage. That also was related to out-of-control judges.
The President promised to pick judges who would interpret the law, not try to write laws themselves. So even if it is true that the five new Southern Senators were the products of President Bushs coattails, indirectly they got there because the President made judges an important campaign theme.
I reject the notion that these Senators only got elected because of President Bush. All five of them ran excellent campaigns and they themselves raised the judges issue. Each of them promised to vote to confirm the Presidents judicial nominees.
If Democratic Senators want to go on believing that the filibuster of judges had nothing to do with the new Senators coming into office, they will be in for a rude surprise in 2006. I know that the Party in the White House is supposed to take a terrible beating in the Congress in the sixth year of an eight-year term. But if Democrats keep on obstructing, Republicans may reverse history as they did in the 2002 elections.
Many of the Democrats running for re-election in 2006 are running in the Red States. Ken Mehlman is going to do his best to keep the Republican organization alive and well in those States in particular. Indeed, if the Democrats continue to filibuster judges, that may turn out to be THE issue in 2006.
If the Democrats are indeed in denial, then where does that leave Majority Leader Bill Frist? Clearly he simply cant tolerate cloture vote after cloture vote in the new Congress. Republicans will be in trouble in this next election if they are perceived as having accomplished little.
It is time for the nuclear option. There are two ways to accomplish getting the Senate to the place where it takes just 51 votes to confirm a judge or justice. The first would be to amend the Senate Rules at the beginning of the session. That is dangerous. While there is overwhelming sentiment to abolish the practice of requiring 60 votes to break a filibuster against confirming a judge, conservatives do not want to weaken Rule 22 as to legislation.
When I was hired by the late Senator Gordon Allott (R-CO) in 1966, there were just 33 Republican Senators. The only weapon we had to stop the Great Society juggernaut was the filibuster. Yes, things look good for Republicans now, but the day may come again when they are down to that many Senators. They dont want to put themselves in the position where they cant stop the initiatives of a Democrat President if need be.
Changing the rules might make it possible for the liberals to attack the legislative filibuster when they get back in power. We just cant take that chance.
The other way to achieve the objective of having just 51 votes to confirm a judge or justice is to wait for the Democrats to begin to filibuster. A Senator then could make a point of order, contending that the requirement of 60 votes to confirm a judge is unconstitutional.
The Vice President (who should have been notified to preside at that point) would rule that 60 votes is indeed unconstitutional. Then virtually all Republican Senators would have to vote to uphold the ruling of the chair, which, of course, would be challenged by the Democrats. The Senate then would proceed on the nomination at hand and would have an up-or-down vote on the nominee in question.
That is the preferred option. It sets a precedent and the Senate operates on precedent.
The problem is that it does require at least 50 Republicans voting to uphold the ruling of the chair. That means the Majority Leader could lose five of his colleagues. That is one of the reasons that Senators pushed the incoming Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who now has agreed to consider this move he had earlier opposed.
The reason Senator Frist didnt move earlier on this option was concern that he could not get 50 Senators to uphold the chair. In the 108th Congress he could afford only two defections: one Republican and Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA).
Something must be done to break the logjam. Democrats had either filibustered or have said that they were going to filibuster up to 18 of the Presidents nominees to the Courts of Appeals. These Courts are terribly important.
The Supreme Court only takes a handful of cases each term. Most issues are settled in the Courts of Appeals and far more in State courts of last resort. Moreover, many nominees for the Supreme Court have come from the Courts of Appeals.
Some observers believe that some of these Circuit Court nominees are being filibustered now because Senators dont want to have to filibuster a nominee for the Supreme Court later.
What Majority Leader Frist does on judicial nominees in many ways will determine the outcome of the 109th Congress. If he finds a way to break the logjam without damaging the legislative filibuster he will be a hero to the conservative movement. If he fails to break the logjam it will mean we will be in for two years of constant frustration.
Let us hope Senator Frist prevails. Indeed, some believe he will leave the Senate after the 2006 elections to run for President. Wouldnt he have one fine story to tell if he could showcase all of President Bushs judiciary nominees confirmed and serving the Nation? One fine story indeed.
Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.
Nuclear option is the ANSWER
If the dems want to play it that way I say let them. I'd make them filibuster the correct way, 24/7 until the vote is cast. The filibuster weapon is only good because the other side fears it. I say embrace it. Force the bluff and make them suffer. After a few real filibusters they will have to come up with a new ploy.
Let the courts be shutterred. They don't do their job anyway. They cause more trouble than they eliminate.
According to the ACLJ (Jay Sekulo), there's a movement afoot to get rid of the filibuster rule . . . is that true?
November 17, 2004
GOP Senators May Exercise 'Nuclear Option' for Judgeships
by Pete Winn, associate editor
Conservative groups pleased that rule change may be in the offing.
Reports on Capitol Hill today indicated that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist may be getting ready to exercise what Congress-watchers call "the nuclear option" when it comes to nominations for the judiciary a change in Senate rules so that only a simple majority is needed to end a filibuster of a judicial nominee.
And that news is music to the ears of most conservative legal experts frustrated the last few years by Democratic-led efforts to block conservative judicial nominees via filibuster.
"They have changed the rule on cloture before," said Jan LaRue, chief legal counsel for Concerned Women for America. "It used to be 66 votes were required to break a filibuster -- they lowered it to 60. What's unconstitutional about making it a simple 51-vote majority? There are only a few topics on which the Constitution requires a supermajority vote, and invoking cloture to stop a filibuster isn't one of them."
Tom Minnery, vice president of government and public policy at Focus on the Family Action, agreed that a rules change is long overdue.
"We're pleased they are going to change the rules, to revert to what they had been for many, many years that judicial nominees who plainly have the support of the majority of the Senate, get a vote in that Senate, rather than be bottled up by Senate filibuster," Minnery said.
There is speculation in Washington that the push for the change might be tied to the controversy over Sen. Arlen Specter's presumed ascension to the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which holds hearings on judicial nominees before they are moved to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. Specter who is pro-abortion has been under fire since Nov. 3, when he said President Bush who is pro-life shouldn't nominate any judges who would threaten "a woman's right to choose" to the federal bench.
Pro-family groups have waged a campaign since then to upend Specter's ascension to the chairmanship. That campaign may be falling short, in light of news reports today that prominent senators including current Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch have expressed confidence in Specter's leadership.
According to Congressional Quarterly, Specter himself is expected to issue a statement as early as Thursday committing himself to moving President Bush's judicial nominees even his pro-life judicial nominees if he becomes chairman.
Minnery said Specter who has spent much of the last 10 days defending himself to colleagues and party leadership is almost certain to back the rules change.
"I suspect that Arlen Specter bobbing and weaving, dancing and jiving to try and get his judiciary committee chairmanship would be happy to support Sen. Frist's rule change, just to continue to build enough support to get the job he wants," he said.
But, Minnery added, he believes Frist will want the rules of the Senate changed "regardless of anything to do with Arlen Specter."
"Sen. Frist," he explained, "is dedicated to the same kinds of things the president is, including judges who will interpret the Constitution as written, not as the latest fad from leftist law schools dictates."
In any event, Minnery said Focus on the Family Action and other pro-family groups have not changed their opinion about Specter's bid to become the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
"He's a man," Minnery said, "who is plainly out of step with the American people and plainly out of step with the president, who will be submitting nominees to the federal courts that Specter may well object to."
Till they learn to represent ALL their constituents, and not their soiled underwear.
Absolutely, positively, completely, utterly, and totally. Stand firm, Mr. President!
Excellent analysis, as alwayus, from Weyrich. Let's play devil's advocate, from the Dems perspective. Reid may be correct in that they would have lost the five southern seats regardless, and he may also be taking a hard look at 2006, and figure that the BEST the Dems can do is to lose only TEWO more seats. If so, then better to fight now..It energizes the base, brings the $$$$ in, big time, and in forcing the GOP to go nuclear, it then allows the Dems to reframe the issue. In a second, it's NOT about the Dems delaying votes on judicial nominations, it becomes all about the BIG, BAD, GOP trying to steamroll the government, and upset 200+ years of Senate tradition. From a tactical point of view..it's Reid's best shot..It's drawing two cards to a straight flush.but it can happen..And one other point..it will also force Hillary Clinton to make a lot of votes..hard for her to project this "softer" middle of the road image that way..
Bull! All they care about is maintaining enough individual power to squeeze an average of $100,000 in campaign contributions a week out of lobbyists.
Presidental nominees should never be filibustered. "Advise and consent" - that's it. If you don't like the Presidents nominees - win the next election. They come very four years.
Go ahead. Make my day.
You can't blame the Democrts for filibustering.
Blame the Republicans for allowing the Democrats to filibuster.
I know, I know, until the Republicans get a 99 to 1 majority, they can't stop the Democrats.
My question is, which will happen first? Hell freezing over or the Republicans acting like the majority party.
Based on past performances, my money is on Hell freezing over.
This has nothing to do with anything.
Every Democratic senator knows that the media can't elect Demorats. They failed to do so in 2000, 2002 and 2004. Every Democratic Senator knows that Bush can defeat Democratic Senators. He did so in 2000,2002 and 2004. He can do so in 2006. That has put the fear of God in Democrats up for reelection in 2006.
At least 4 of the Democratic Senators up for reelection in strong Red states in 2006 will have a choice. Vote for cloture when Reid tries to filibuster or face strong Bush opposition in 2006. The price is pretty simple. Vote for cloture when Reid tries to fillibuste and be assured that Bush will remain neutral in their reelection attempt. Their other choice is to vote with the Democrats filibuster and face a high chance of being defeated in 2006.
Faced with that choice the Democratic incumbents will tell Reid they can't afford to oppose President Bush's nominees. They will vote for Cloture and then vote for the nominee. That is, they will vote for the Bush nominee before they vote against him.
That leaves Bush needing to get just one more vote out of the remaining 41 Democratic Senators. Those up for election in 2008 or 2010 will not want opposition in their next attempt. Bush will be able to bribe at least one more DINO. There is no way Reid can prevent that from happening.
With 55 senators the Repubicans have enough clout to hurt Democrats serving in the Senate.
Reid may threaten fillibuster, but he will not be able to make it stick. Bush needs just 5 Democrats to win. The Republicans now have the power to cause some DINOs to tell Reid to shove it.
This is not a 51 to 48 and one independent member senate. It is a new ball game and the Democrats are at a severe disadvantage. They know it the media knows it.. they just don't want you to know it.
Or just vote against them...but they won't allow a vote either way.
I was looking at the Senate voting record on Miguel Estrada and the Nelson twins both voted to invoke cloture at least once and most likely multiple times.
Doesn't this take away our best attack against the top 2 targets of 2006?
As Americans we often take too much for granted and our freedoms allow us to be born optomists and unsuspecting of those who wish the demise of our "American Way".
Three things have made a major impact IMO on society's apparent fall from grace. The NEA is a front runner in that they target our impressionable youth. With stay-at-home moms mocked into non-existence, the NEA has been emboldened to socialize/poison our children knowing many of their actions would fall below most parents "radar".
The second nefarious influence has been the Warren/Marshall Courts which behind the scenes set many of the abusing legal precidents into motion through their modernizing views of what the Founding Fathers "meant" when the Constitution was forged.
The final piece of the puzzle came in the form of the ACLU whose organization of trial lawyers (with coffers overflowing from tobacco claims) and "pocketed" Federal Judges took advantage of the Supreme Court's ambiguous precidents to set the HARD LEFT LIBERAL's agenda into motion.
Our American way-of-life softened us into ignoring the subtle "warning signs"... if something didn't affect our immediate life we turned a blind eye to it. We have lost our ability to distinguish evil until it is fast upon us. Every compromise made on our morals has only emboldened those who wish us harm. The church has stood silent, infiltrated from within by those who undermined it's strength, spreading moral relativism as the "little leaven" that ruins the whole loaf. America is asleep and the wolves have thrown off their sheep's clothing...sad but sobering
Distinguishing between Patriots and cowards, our favorite Founder, Samuel Adams said: "Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say, 'What should be the reward of such sacrifices?' ... If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom...crouch down and lick the hands, which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!"
This was quoted from an issue of the Federalist!
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