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Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Byrd & Frist "Discuss" The Constitutional Option

Yes, the evil spectre of the "Defeatocrats" has arisen again. The Constitutional Option was reentered into the Senate's transcripts yesterday. It seems that Bob Byrd and Bill Frist decided to get into a p**sing contest on the floor of the Senate over Judge Alito, and the possibility of the Constitutional Option being invoked over his nomination. The following is from ABC News, picking it up from Reuters.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd warned on Monday that he would bring the U.S. Senate to a virtual standstill if Republicans carry out a threat to change its rules by outlawing filibusters on judicial nominations.

Byrd of West Virginia, a staunch defender of the Senate's often arcane rules and procedures, was responding to a comment by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who said Sunday he might move to restrict filibusters if Democrats try to block the nomination of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Minutes after the Senate returned from a three-week vacation Byrd challenged Frist, a Tennessee Republican, in an unusually pointed floor debate.

"If the senator wants a fight, let him try. I'm 88 years old but I can still fight and fight I will for freedom of speech," Byrd said.

Byrd said he did not expect a filibuster against Alito, but complained, "I'm tired of hearing this threat thrown in our faces if we decide we want to filibuster."

The filibuster is a tactic used to indefinitely prolong debate on the Senate floor. The debate can be stopped if 60 senators vote to do so. The Republicans hold 55 of the Senate's 100 seats, not necessarily enough to end a filibuster.

"My principle is an up or down vote … that's all I'm arguing for, is an up or down vote," Frist told Byrd.

Byrd shot back, "That's never been the rule here. Senators have the right to talk, the right to filibuster."

If Frist tries to limit that right, "He's going to see a real filibuster," Byrd warned.

The filibuster and the Republican's so-called "nuclear option" for limiting it have been hotly debated all year as senators girded for President George W. Bush's nominations to fill Supreme Court vacancies.

Democrats have already blocked some of Bush's choices of conservatives to serve as judges on lower courts.
Earlier this year a group of 14 Republican and Democratic senators reached a pact to reserve the filibuster only for "extraordinary circumstances."

The pact held and Democrats did not stage a filibuster this fall over the Senate's confirmation of John Roberts as a replacement for the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

The Senate is due in January to begin debate on whether to confirm Alito to the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Sandra O'Connor.

OK Bobby. You want to play hardball, then let's mambo.

I actually had a chance to watch this little debate. Byrd was openly hostile from the start. In between bloviating about irrlevent things (typical Byrd-droppings) he would issue threats like showing Frist a "real filibuster." I have one question for the senior senator from West Virginia. Does your party have the guts to pull in the cots? Ours was preparing to. We were going to show you what a real filibuster used to be. The problem with the fat-cats in DC is that none of them have shown the fortitude to go the extra mile. Our side was ready and preparing to do so BEFORE the Gang of 14 stepped in with their unconstitutional deal at the last minute.

We were going to the mat, toe-to-toe with your party over ten nominees. These nominees, thanks to a deal you participated in tossed seven of them under the bus, and only allowed three their constitutionally protected up or down vote. That's all we want. We want the president's nominees to get their fair and unbiased hearing on their credentials, their experiences, their personal lives, and their general knowledge regarding the post they're nominated to. This is not only within the Constitution, but the rules of the Judiciary Committee regarding nominees to the federal bench. You are not allowed to ask them about specific cases, as it directly violates Canon 5 of legal ethics. There are to be no attacks, which Chief Justice Roberts deflected the rare and feeble swipes from your party on the Judiciary Committee.

Once passed from the committee, they go to the floor of the Senate for a vote. They can have debate over the nominee, but in the end, a vote is called for. Save a last minute piece of information that could "make or break" the nominee's pending vote, debate is finished and a vote takes place. (In the event of such information, a senator may place a hold on the vote, forcing a cloture vote. There can be no filibuster; nominees aren't legislation. The Constitution is explicit. "Advice" comes in committee. "Consent" comes in the appropriate vote.

If the Democrats decide to invoke a filibuster, and the Republicans have the votes, Frist is going to pull the trigger. To this day, he still gets correspondance about this move. And I can almost certainly guarantee that after the mid-terms in 2006, where Frist is slated to retire (his words, vowing to only run for two terms), whoever is made the new Majority Leader, that leader will have the guts to activate the option if it's not done so before. The GOP will not make another mistake in appointing a person as wobbly as Frist has been. I mean no disrespect to Sen. Frist, however his ability to maintain control since being elected to the leadership position on Sen. Trent Lott's resignation has not been stellar.

The point I'm trying to make, and one that I hope I did make is that Byrd is making threats, and probably idle ones at that. He is up for reelection in 2006, as well. To pull a stunt like this would give ANY opponent of his firepower he'd rather they didn't have. I think is saber rattling in the same way that North Korea, or Iran, or China might make. They all threaten some nastiness, but when stood up to, they suddenly want to return to negotiations. Byrd is threatening a pretty nasty response. Granted it'll be hilarious watching the "Defeatocrats" melt down on TV, but it'll take up time that we really can't afford to waste. It's assured to hurt their party more than ours, and with the backing over the last time this issue came up, the GOP will likely pull the trigger without a second thought.

Alito isn't worth a filibuster. Hell, he doesn't even come close to warranting one. This is political grandstanding from an old dog that's been outmaneuvered, outwitted, and outsmarted at nearly every turn. (At least on the turns where the GOP doesn't shoot itself in the foot.) Turn out the lights, and say goodnight if the party follows this old man down a road they really can't afford to go.

Publius II


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