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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fun And Games For Senate Democrats

It's been a dog's age since we addressed any Judiciary business, and today seems just as good as any day to bring it up. John Hinderaker and Paul Mirengoff have some fun at Democrat expense with their continued obstruction of President Bush's judicial nominees. It seems they sent some people back to the president with a "no go" reply. The president has renominated them.

Dick Durbin's statement is picked up by John:

Senate Democrats emphasized the need for Republican cooperation. "We really need bipartisanship," said incoming Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who helped lead the filibusters of President Bush's judicial nominees.

Now this is the mantra coming from the Democrats after the election. They're all pledging "bipartisanship" with Republicans. And while Durbin is hardly one to emphasize this (he is one of the key obstructionists in the Senate), at least we can say that they're trying to make an effort at playing nice. But Paul brings up Chuck Schumer's indignant attitude about having six of the returned nominees sent back to the Judiciary Committee:

“Democrats have asked the president to be bipartisan, but this is a clear slap in the face at our request,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who is a member of the Judiciary Committee. “For the sake of the country, we hope that this is an aberration because the president feels he must placate his hard-right base rather than an indication of things to come.”

The president isn't placating anyone in his base. He's moving forward on his promise to nominate judges who will interpret the law through originalism. If that's "hard right" to Schumer (Duh! He's a Lefty) then so be it. But to the nation, they welcome such judges being appointed to a federal bench that has too many activist judges. But Paul also points to Ed Whelan at Bench Memos who observes the hypocrisy of the Democrats in a decisive fasion:

Not once, I am informed, did Senate Republicans ever deny President Clinton the courtesy of holding nominations over during an intrasession recess (or even an intersession recess within a Congress). President Bush’s action merely restores, as much as possible, the status quo that should be in effect. (In fact, some nominees who were already on the Senate floor now will have to go through committee referral again.)

If Democrats were really serious about being cooperative, they would stop playing these silly games—and stop falsely accusing the President of the very sort of conduct they’re engaged in.

The Democrats have been fighting this war ever since the president sent his first appointments to them. They don't like his choices because they don't believe in the activist attitude that others on the federal bench embrace. And it goes right in line with their tactics over the last decade, or so. Their agenda will NEVER be accepted by the majority of America, and they're pushing it through the courts. As long as they maintain activists on the bench, their agenda will go forward. (At least they hope so, but their most recent attempt to undermine the Constitutional authority of the federal government has pretty much failed. Judge Diggs-Taylor's purely uneduycated decision will be overturned by the Sixth Circuit Court.

The Democrats can preach this or get indignant at that, but it's not going to help the Democrats. The judges are going to continue coming down from the White House, whether anyone believes the president to be a lame duck or not. (Which he isn't really one. Democrats forget that they don't have a veto-proof majority.) Let them prattle on about whatever they choose, but it's not going to change the fact that they're going to go back to the old tyactics of obstructing the president's nominees.

In addition to this, Andrew at Confirm Them sporeads the word that Sen. Specter has decided that renominated judges won't get their up or down vote:

The Senate will be in session the rest of this week, and also for at least the first two weeks of December. Yet, Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter is reportedly refusing to report renominated circuit court nominees to the full Senate. He reportedy says, "It is obvious that they cannot move."

No, they can move, and should move, and it's his job to ensure that they do. This is the sort of attitude we were afraid would happen with him as Judiciary chairman. I'm not sure why he's decided to pull this sort of garbage, but someone had better yank him back into line before the majority changes hands in January. If not, then Bill Frist needs to move the nominees to the floor himself by calling for their votes. If he wants to redeem himself in the eyes of the base at all, and keep those slim hopes of a presidential run alive, he'd be smart to move in this direction.

And Andrew also takes note of the interview Hugh Hewitt had with Sen. McConnell (who should, and likely will be, the new minority leader in January) regarding the filibuster of judges:

HH: Right. Senator McConnell, today, the New York Observer quotes Chuck Schumer, your colleague from New York, as saying that judges are the most important. One more justice would have made it a 5-4 conservative, hard-right majority for a long time. That won't happen. How do you respond to that?

MM: Well, judges are important. And we've gotten two Supreme Court justices. Both of them we expect to be solid conservatives in this current Congress. In addition to that, in spite of the fact that we haven't gotten every single judge, the overall vacancy rate is 5.7%, which is lower than at any time in recent memory. The vacancy rate actually is the lowest it's been in the last 20 years. So we have been able to get a lot of judges on the bench, and we expect to have the same kind of cooperation from them, that has previously been extended when we had divided government. Let me just give you some statistics. In the last two years of the last three presidents, all of which were in divided government, the Senate has confirmed on average 92 judicial nominees, including 17 circuit court nominees. So the precedent in recent years, when you have divided government, in the last two years of an administration of both parties, is that you are able to confirm a significant number of judicial nominees, including circuit court nominees. We expect from them the same level of cooperation we extended to President Clinton. We decided he'd been elected president, and we were not entitled to deny him all of his judges. Elections do have consequences, and in the last two years of the Clinton administration, when we had 55 Republicans in the Senate, we still confirmed over 70 of his judicial nominees, including 15 circuit court nominees. Now a lot of conservatives would say why did you do that. Well, the reason we did it, he won the election. And President Bush won the election, and we expect the same level of cooperation from them, as we gave them under similar circumstances. If we don't get it, let me just confirm again, Hugh, that in the Senate, everything is related to everything else. The minority has a lot of power in the Senate. This is not the House of Representatives. Everything will be linked to everything else. And if they're looking for cooperation from us in moving legislation on the floor, which they will need to be able to do anything, it's going to be tied to fair treatment of the President's judicial nominees.

HH: Senator McConnell, what I would love to hear you or the minority whip, Lott, or someone in leadership say over and over again is that if obstruction is the rule of Senator Leahy's Judiciary Committee, especially as to Supreme Court justices, the next Democratic president, may it be decades away, but when the next Democratic president comes along, there will be payback.

MM: Well, sure. I mean, these precedents that are started in the Senate are almost never stopped. We were able to get the filibuster genie back in the bottle. As you know, Summer a year ago, we were able to get Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor and Priscilla Owen, who had become kind of poster children for the left, we got them all confirmed, not to mention two solid Supreme Court nominees. So I think we've pushed them back on the filibuster. Now the filibuster is considered something that would be done only on rare circumstances. It had become routine. So we'll see whether they honor the most recent precedent. If they don't, they're going to have a lot of problems moving anything on the floor.

That's what we want to hear ourt of the next leader of the Republicans in the Senate. No more ghames. No more obstruction. No more filibusters. There will be consequences if the Democrats go back to the same old song and dance. We're not going to screw around on this issue anymore. And if people like John McCain step up, and stick their nose into things where it doesn't belong, then they need to be taken out at the knees, and cut off from party support.

There is a time and a place for grandstanding. Judicial nominees, and other appointed people by the president, are neither. They get their hearings. They get their votes. End of story.

Publius II


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