Sunday, May 08, 2005

Master Broder, do not go to the Dark Side

If you doubted that David Broder was sending himself over a Republican cliff, doubt no longer. Today's column by the esteemed pundit shows that he has sold himself to the GOP, or in a less likely scenario, is convinced that the Senate exists in 1975, and that honor, duty and country still count first. Let's break this one down, shall we?

"Frist not unexpectedly rejected Reid's offer, saying that Bush believes all his judges deserve an up-or-down vote. Frist, in turn, outlined his own proposal, which was a bit more complex. In return for the Democrats' accepting a ban on judicial filibusters, Frist offered to guarantee up to 100 hours of floor debate on each court appointee. Acknowledging that Republicans had blocked several of Bill Clinton's choices for the bench by refusing them hearings or approval in the Judiciary Committee, Frist also said he would pledge that all future nominees would get to the full Senate for an up-or-down vote.
Reid said he could not accept that proposal because "after 100 hours, the rights of the minority are extinguished." But the Democrats would be well advised to make a serious counteroffer rather than just reject Frist's overture."

Why should Democrats make a serious counteroffer at this point? They offered to let some of these people go and asked that the most extreme (i.e. Owen and Rogers-Brown) be rejected. And Frist's promise of letting all future nominees make it to the floor is disingenuous. Of course he said that. He retires after the midterms, so any future nominees under him come from his own party, so why wouldn't he guarantee that? He wasn't being mindful of how they screwed Clinton. He was playing a shell game.


"It is hard to believe that, when there is a serious case for rejecting a judicial nomination, it cannot be made in 100 hours of floor debate. What Reid is really saying is that he does not trust the majority of senators of both parties to weigh the merits of these judges after hearing all the arguments, pro and con, for their confirmation.
I think that distrust is unjustified. I believe that the centrist senators -- the moderate Democrats and Republicans who hold the balance of power in the Senate -- will give due deference to the president's selections for the bench but exercise their own judgments on those jurists' fitness for these lifetime appointments.
But Frist's suggestion offers a way to test that confidence. Democrats should accept the Frist proposal for the seven disputed judgeships and see what happens when they are examined carefully in extended debate on their individual merits."

This is Broder's time warp. He thinks the GOP doesn't bully its members, and that they will make principled Dick Lugar pushing for John Bolton at the U.N., or Ted Stevens, who's been around since 1969, right after the Fortas filibuster, yet will vote to detonate the nuclear option. The man who's been pragmatic on Social Security, Lindsey Graham, is willing to detonate. Centrism is going to be hard-fought here, and there's enormous pressure from interest groups and the party machinery to vote yes for people who are wholly unqualified. Would you take that risk as a Senator up for re-election, Mr. Broder?

And who says that Frist will keep to his word? Since he can change the rules at anytime, and since he's retiring, who is to say he'd stick to any agreement? He's fully beholden to his FOF sponsors now, and there's no backing down. I think he wants to detonate just to earn campaign cash for a presidential bid. It's sad I think that way, but there's an awful lot of justification to back me up on this.


"If everyone voted on party lines on every one of the seven appointees, then there might be no escape from the destructive potential of the "nuclear option." But I think the Senate is better than that, and I think that senators deserve a chance to demonstrate that they can meet their constitutional duty to share with the president the task of staffing the third branch of government.
If Frist has confidence in his colleagues, he will welcome such an experiment. And if the Democrats are prudent, they will withhold the threat of a filibuster and let the first 100-hour judicial nomination debate begin."

Broder, again, hasn't watched Congress that closely in the Bush administration. They have definitely not lived up to their duty of "advise and consent," instead they have been a pass-gate which Bush gets pretty much anything he wants. And prudence for the Democrats does not mean caving at this point. Prudence for the Democrats is letting the Republican leadership explode on this. Changing the rules and being a bully doesn't go over well, and that's what this GOP government has tried to do, and Americans are disagreeing with them on a massive scale.

America, again, just like on the Schiavo case, and just like on Social Security, is behind the Democrats on this one, and that's why Frist hasn't tried already. He'll probably lose if he does so, and he's scared to lose his bully pulpit and support. Hence the stringing along of pushing the button on this. Prudence for the Democrats is letting the Republican leadership explode on this. Changing the rules and being a bully doesn't go over well, and that's what this GOP government has tried to do, and Americans are disagreeing with them on a massive scale.


Anonymous EHV said...

Check your facts.

Bolton? He's one man who'll give the UN a swift kick in the ass. But the Dems don't want it. Hmm. Why? Maybe because he'll give the UN a swift kick in the ass. Doesn't sound like the best bet for the US to me. A friend of mine has a pretty good analysis:

Fortas? Not a "judicial filibuster." Fortas was ALREADY on the federal bench--the SUPREME COURT to be exact. He was facing a raise to Chief Justice, and was involved in a scandal. Senators (D and R) used the filibuster to help expose the scandal to the public.

The filibuster is for Senate business ONLY. Check the old records. Reid, Leahy, they have all admitted that its not for use on Presidential appointments--and the filibuster isn't a "right" its a privelege. Those nominees ALL deserve a vote on the Senate floor. Frist has offered debate, which is normally not allowed, ALL future nominees get an up or down vote--big compromises, and it doesn't even get rid of the filibuster for actual Senate stuff--just the Presidental appointments which it isn't supposed to be used for anyway. What does Reid want? The filibuster.

As for them being extreme? Maybe you should actually take a look at their records. Why is Owen so extreme? No answer to that from the Dems. Seems that, as a state court judge in Texas, Owen interpreted a law passed by the Texas Legislature requiring parental consent for 14-year-old girls to have abortions to mean that parental consent was required for 14-year-old girls to have abortions. Wow.

Why is Brown extreme? There's been no answer to that question either. Just that she's extreme. There's a lot of people opposed to her--NARAL, PFAW, yeah. Liberal groups. When someone wants to explain why being "not liberal" automatically makes you "extreme" maybe some conservatives will listen.

Why don't you just declare yourself a Democrat and stop annoying the rest of the Republican party?

6:59 PM  
Blogger Thad said...

Okay, let's look at this. Former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin said yesterday on national television that Bolton tried to have a CIA guy fired, even though Bolton was at State. This firing was over Bolton's disagreement with the guy.

I don't have a problem per se with kicking the UN in the ass. It's who we send to do it. Bolton doesn't listen to anyone else but himself, and that's dangerous. I do listen to others.

Two, and you make a good point that Fortas was already on the bench, it was still a judicial appt. being voted on. Furthermore, the Democrats you name were Democrats in name only. Keep in mind Strom Thurmond, James Eastland, and other racists hardly fit with the national party.

Third, there have been other judicial filibusters by the Senate, dating back to John Tyler's presidency, so there is further precedent for such an act.

Fourth, the Republicans filibustered (Frist included) two Clinton nominees in 1999 and 2000. Again, precedent.

When it comes to Rogers-Brown, just read some of her recent comments. They scream a different sort of "judicial activism," but one that's fully palatable to you.

There is plenty of precedent for the filibuster to be used here, and so taking it away now because Frist suddenly believes in giving judges votes, but only when they are Bush's judges, is crap. Democrats did give Robert Bork a vote, even though they couldn't stand him. HE GOT A VOTE.

Then Republican Senators decided to deny 62 judges a vote, something Chuck Hagel pointed out on This Week. So now that the Democrats want to use the same tactic in retaliation, that means it's wrong? Cognitive dissonance is continuing to the right of center.

I support people I believe in on issues I believe in. I know fine Republicans and fine Democrats, and the flipside is true as well. I never called myself a Republican, I never called myself a Democrat. I call bullshit where I see it. It's just right now, I see Republican leaders lying, and I don't see Democratic leaders lying. End of story.

3:17 AM  
Blogger E. M. Zanotti said...

Okay, okay. Hold up one second and look at the reason this is all going down. Judicial activism is a serious problem--on both sides, but right now, the issues going up for decision are issues where people stand to lose a lot--issues that the people are better able to decide, not the judiciary. Its a bad situation--since Brown v. Board of Education, the US has condoned judicial activism, but now its gone a little too far. Schiavo wasn't judicial activism, Greer interpreted the law the way he saw it, probably according to the way it should have been interpreted. It was unfortunate that the life of a human hung in the balance, but hang on one second. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, sec. 1331-38, the fed courts have jurisdiction over federal questions, diversity cases, and anything else that the congress deems the fed courts can have jurisidiction over. Every so often a situation comes up where the congress determines that federal jurisidiction is appropriate--usually in deportation cases, or cases similar to teh Shiavo case. Congress had the authority to confer jurisdiction. What's sad about the Shiavo case is that there are hundreds of people who don't get that consideration, even if they are in the same situation--not that the President or Congress interfered where they shouldn't.

But judicial activism has become a real problem. The Republicans are concerned, because teh decisions coming down from the courts are about gay marriage, things like that. If the people want those things, they'll pass legislation for them, like in Conn. The judiciary doesn't need to determine the will of the people.

Okay, done with that. The filibuster for judicial nominees is probably on its way out. Probably for good reason. Everytime it happens the other side complains. When they were filibustering Dem nominees (some of which are still up, by the way) the Dems complained, but this is the first time someone's had the guts to question it OR the prospective votes to do it. The republicans specifically want the filibuster gone because there's a good chance Supreme Court nominees could come up w/in this presidency. The big deal is this compromise. Both sides are playing hard ball, but they are also engaging in serious negotiations. Nobody likes the judicial filibuster, see Reid, Leahy statments a few years ago. There's a lot of public hogwash, but it's probably going through.

Bork is a different story. I study under him, and he was Borked, for lack of a better word, which destroyed his chances AND his reputation over a very dumb issue. IT was the first appearance of
"scorched earth." Its not really comparable. He did get a vote, but so did Ginsberg.

All politicians lie. ALL of them. Its a natural consequence of the public life. And hypocricy is no better. But I think Obi-Wan Kenobi said it best: "many of the truths we cling to are from a certain point of view." I run a very conservative blog, and I interpret things my way, but there is bad behavior on both sides if you look hard enough. Its like the Tom DeLay thing. He's no angel, but neither are about 50 other Senators. Its all in how you look at it.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Thad said...

I'm not so sanguine about the filibuster's departure. Reid called Frist's bluff today on it, saying he was ready for a vote and felt enough Republicans would vote to keep it. Reid wouldn't do that unless he was confident that would be the case.

Frist, on the other hand, keeps putting the vote off, threatening it, but never calling it, meaning he doesn't truly believe he can win the vote. I mean, at some point a threat loses its validity if it isn't followed through on.
I don't want to see the Senate go nuclear, but there are a lot of Republican interest groups who do. This battle is more than just a judiciary issue. This sets the tone for the rest of the term, for the elections, and already for 2008. It's a battle over not just governing, but ruling. When a party talks of long-term electoral dominance, they're looking to rule, which is not nearly as beneficial to America.

Democrats holding the House as long as they did led to a lot of awful behavior, from Carl Albert's drinking problem to Wayne Hays' mistresses to Jim Wright's kickbacks. This is something that Newt Gingrich and now Tom DeLay have learned very directly. Power corrupts. It's why I prefer a divided government, because say what you want about Gingrich and Clinton, they did a lot of good through their adversarial relationship. The nation was in great shape in the late 90s.

Anyways, to the activism thing. Deciding gay marriage from the courts is an interesting issue. The high court struck down anti-miscegenation laws in the 1960's, ruling that the 14th Amendment prevented states from keeping people from marrying. Whether that can be applied to gays is something that is being hotly debated and contested. I do believe this is going to end up going to the Supreme Court.

Interestingly enough, if the ERA had been passed, it possibly could've given gays more cover for the courts to decide this.

You say that states can decide to do this if they want. But at what point does state inaction preclude a group from having civil rights? At what point does activism end and proper involvement begin? It's a very thin line. The Pledge case, for instance, was a bit ridiculous. "Under God" was added during the Cold War, wasn't really necessary (william Safire wrote a great column on this and how the Pledge used to be. He argued it never should have been altered), but doesn't really harm anyone. I understand atheists don't believe in God, and that's their right, but this is one case where the minority is a really small minority, and the Ninth Circuit was wrong.

However, marriage, as I've argued, is a civil right. Marraiges occured in ancient Rome before Constantine converted to Christianity. Therefore, the institution of marriage is not per se a religious function sanctioned by the state historically. Justices of the peace hold non-religious marraiges, sanctioned just like religious marraiges. Therefore, marraige is a civil function if we empower people other than religious leaders to hold such ceremonies. As a civil, not a religious, function, marraige does not have to conform to religious boundaries.

This leaves a sticky problem. If the courts decide it, people get upset. However, many states, including our own, are barring gays from marrying. The question that is left, the truly important question, is whether marriage is a right that people have. If people have the right to marry, then the courts have to rule on these laws and strike them down, because the laws would violate the Equal Protection Clause. If marraige isn't a right, then the laws are legal, odious as they may be. This is the big issue, the underlying issue, and largely ignored in the political fighting.

10:44 PM  

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