There's considerable talk everywhere about the possibility of the nuclear option
as a means of preventing Dems from fillibustering possible judicial nominees to the Federal bench. Now Jay Ambrose of the Ft. Wayne (IN) Journal Gazzette offers his thoughts on the matter
. (Hat tip: Bashman
). This idiot's reasoning just might be popular with people who lean right. Scary. Here's why.
He begins the tirade with:
If Democrats in the Senate continue their unprecedented, unconstitutional, undemocratic, unconscionable tactic of using filibusters to prevent up-or-down floor votes on President Bush’s judicial nominees, do not hesitate. Blast their republic-harming impudence to smithereens.
Let's start with unprecedented. There are only 6 previous years that match the current environment. First, until Nixon's presidency, ideology was really not a factor in judicial nominations. So post Nixon, the only times a party controlled the presidency and the Senate were Carter's four years and the first two years of Clinton. Carter took Nixon's ideology bit a step further. Reagan, recognizing a good thing when he saw one, continued. Now for precedent. The DEMOCRATICALLY DOMINATED Senate approved 12 years of nominations from Reagan and Bush that included Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, O'Connor, and countless Court of Appeals judges (cough cough Kozinski here in the 9th to name one bright shining example). That is, as a precedent, the opposition party did not put up much of a fight against the sitting president's nominees. Bork is the exception, but then that was opposed by mod Republicans as well. And frankly, this is cancelled out by Rep opposition to Abe Fortas. Back to square one. Unprecedented opposition to judicial nominations began in 1995 when the Republicans took control of the House and the Senate. The Judiciary Committee made *cough* unprecedented changes to the nomination process (thanks Mr. Helms). So Clinton nominees could reach a vote often only after back-door deals bringing a conservative judge to a seat along with the President's nominee. Odd...sounds like Republic harming to me, but more on that later. In short, there's at least 6 years of direct precedent where up or down votes were not necessarily guaranteed. Got it Jay?
Unconscionable seems to fit with unprecedented, so really, unless you're saying the Republicans have done unconscionable acts (I really don't see how anyone can claim such luncacy), I'll have to assume it's rhetoric without meaning.
This brings us to unconstitutional. Before I get into a discussion of the constitutionality of a filibuster, I need to quote Jay again. This time he talks about the characteristics of the President's nominees to the bench:
In the 20th century, various subjectivist and deconstructionist philosophies took hold, causing some judges to act as if the words in those laws had no discernible meaning or at least no meaning that should take precedence over the moral understanding or political druthers of the judges themselves. Not infrequently, the judges have veered toward leftist solutions, thereby winning cheers from leftists who had not been able to win their way in legislative bodies, the constitutionally designated place for many of these questions to be decided.
President Bush has been trying to alter this course through the nomination of judges whose judicial philosophies make it more likely they will be interpreters than something on the order of a sports official changing the rules of his own accord in the middle of a game. Bush’s efforts become more important now that it appears he will get to make at least one Supreme Court nomination and conceivably several more, perhaps reshaping the nation’s highest court.
In case you missed that, he wants judges who will not change the rules in the middle of a game by changing the rules in the middle of the game. I want to prevent murder by killing. Well, I suppose those who support Ambrose's line of thinking don't find that statement too contradictory. Anyway, the U.S. Constitution commands, "He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate
, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments. " U.S. Const. Art. II, Sec. 2, cl. 2. So, Ambrose and others presume that unless specified in the Constitution, nothing more than a majority vote is required for anything. Nice try, but the fact is, "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member." Art. I, Sec. 5, cl. 2. Get it Jay? No mandate for clear up and down vote. Just like no mandate for the Republican Senate to have hearings on Clinton nominees.
What's left? Undemocratic and Republic harming? Which democracy are we speaking about? The one that did not trust the majority rule? Perhaps you're talking about the People's Republic of N. Korea where dissent really is a danger to state security?
Actually I do want to the Republicans to use the nuke option. As Ambrose gloats:
The nuclear option may be necessary, and if it is, I propose Frist turn to it with a whoop and a holler, like the Slim Pickens character of Major T.J. “King” Kong opening a bomb bay in his aircraft, mounting a nuclear bomb and riding it to the ground–cowboy hat in his waving hand–in the movie "Dr. Strangelove."
Remember the ending Jay? Where the whole world is destroyed because of the Doomsday device which could not be controlled? Remember that world destruction was a consequence of ignoring pragmatism (Sellers' British Captain character) for rash decision-making (George C. Scott and the Air Force general who launches the attack)? Bring on the nuke. But be prepared to have a homo wedding in your backyard as soon as Democrats are in power.
For the time being, I'll just ignore the judicial interpretation arguments. All I ask is that we kinda tone down the bullshit. Each side wants judges who will rule in their favor on controversial issues. However you want to cloak the rhetoric is your business.
Labels: Elections, Rabid Conservatives, Rabid Liberals