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The 7 - Current Events & Politics - Senate Compromise over Judicial Filibusters Register and log in to post!
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BigSteve
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#1 Posted on 24.5.05 1750.15
Reposted on: 24.5.12 1750.58
Here's a copy of the story. (news.yahoo.com)

It seems like the Democrats "won" as much as they could have expected to win, with two of the five judges that they disapproved of not being confirmed. The Republicans lost out on this one, as they could have presumably had all of their appointees confirmed rather than just some of them. Unless of course, they didn't have the fifty votes needed to change the rules, in which case they made the move that needed to made to save face.

The whole issue of "extraordinary circumstances" seems a little bit iffy to me and leads me to believe that we'll be hearing about this issue again in a few months. If Chief Justice Rehnquist retires as has been speculated, and President Bush chooses to appoint a pro-life Justice to the Supreme, I think that it would be very likely that the Democrats find that to be an "extraordinary circumstance" worthy of a filibuster.

It's also kind of odd that these Justices were so extreme a few days ago, but now the Democrats agree to let them have a vote. I know that they had to compromise or risk having them all confirmed, but it sounds very hypocritical on their part. As an aside, does anyone know what made these appointees so extreme in the Democrats minds? I understand that they're conservative, but does anyone know of any rulings that they made that were supposedly so extreme?

(edited by BigSteve on 24.5.05 1850)

(edited by BigSteve on 24.5.05 1851)
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vsp
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#2 Posted on 25.5.05 0941.37
Reposted on: 25.5.12 0941.37
    Originally posted by BigSteve
    It seems like the Democrats "won" as much as they could have expected to win, with two of the five judges that they disapproved of not being confirmed.


True, though the three they _really_ didn't want to be confirmed (Owen, Brown and Pryor) will now likely sail through confirmation.


    The Republicans lost out on this one, as they could have presumably had all of their appointees confirmed rather than just some of them.


From my perspective, the Republicans did just fine; they had the appointees they really wanted confirmed without having the Senate's operating practices shattered. The rest of their agenda can take place as normal business, instead of under a nuclear-option state of siege with zero cooperation from the Democrats.

The Dobson Squad is furious, of course, because they're absolutists; nothing short of complete victory, every single judge confirmed and the Dems driven into the sea will satisfy them. When you see the world as stark black and white, even dark gray is unacceptable.

However, intentional overreaching and "settling" for 95% of what you wanted all along isn't a new political tactic.

It's not as if the filibustered judges were the _only_ conservative judges in the nation suitable for a federal court. Bush could easily have withdrawn the Owen nomination and nominated another Federalist Society type, then another, then another, then another; the Dems would be trapped into either approving subsequent nominees (tilting the judiciary rightward) or filibustering _everyone_ from that point on (and eating even more "obstructionist" charges and related PR hits than usual).

But that's not what this was all about in the slightest. Having Owen confirmed wasn't as important as demonstrating that they had the power _to_ have Owen confirmed, so to speak. This was about control of the floor, the ability to not just override dissent but literally _ignore_ it through strength of numbers.


    The whole issue of "extraordinary circumstances" seems a little bit iffy to me and leads me to believe that we'll be hearing about this issue again in a few months.


Absolutely, and that's why I'm furious that the compromise went down the way it did. On the Republican side, they got cloture for their main picks and had a couple of B-listers sidelined, and AFAIK there's no rule that says they can't be revisited later. On the Democratic side, they got... NOTHING. They got a "promise of support" from seven Republicans to support filibusters under "extraordinary circumstances."

Whoopee. If Bush nominates Jerry Falwell or Fred Phelps, that'd be one thing, but anyone short of that will have Frist screaming "You let Rogers-Brown through, how can X be 'extraordinary?'" Frist only needs to strongarm _two_ of the Compromise Seven into agreeing with that to have a 50-50 tie that Cheney can break. In effect, the Dems retained the right to the judicial filibuster but can't use it without starting this whole circus over again.

About the only thing that the Dems did achieve was to draw out seven Republicans who essentially said "Yes, we're not wholly on board with win-at-any-costs absolutism, or pretending that the minority is irrelevant." Unfortunately, I suspect that their newfound independence will be short-lived in practice, as they will face massive pressure to toe the party line, and it'll only take one or two defectors from that group. Being Vote #54 or #55 in opposition is one thing; being the critical Vote #51 that tips the balance is another.


EDIT: Here's what I'm on about. From washingtonpost.com:


    Under the pact, a filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee will be "almost impossible," Frist said. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), one of the 14 negotiators, agreed. "If there's a filibuster for a Supreme Court nominee in the future, where one of the seven Democrats who signed the letter participates [in the filibuster], all bets are off," he said in an interview.


Ding! Fries are done. If the Democrats cannot filibuster a Supreme Court nominee, exactly what _did_ they "win" from this compromise?


(edited by vsp on 25.5.05 1131)
DrDirt
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#3 Posted on 25.5.05 1505.05
Reposted on: 25.5.12 1509.51
Of interest, Brownback (R) of Kansas is threatening a filibuster over stem cell legislation.

Glad they did this because both sides would have lost.
CRZ
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#4 Posted on 25.5.05 1612.36
Reposted on: 25.5.12 1627.14
    Originally posted by DrDirt
    Of interest, Brownback (R) of Kansas is threatening a filibuster over stem cell legislation.
That's kinda apples and oranges, isn't it?
messenoir
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#5 Posted on 25.5.05 1939.39
Reposted on: 25.5.12 1939.40
    Originally posted by CRZ
      Originally posted by DrDirt
      Of interest, Brownback (R) of Kansas is threatening a filibuster over stem cell legislation.
    That's kinda apples and oranges, isn't it?


Not as I see it. The minority (Brownback and his colleagues) are unfairly preventing the majority from holding a straight up or down vote. At least, these are the very same arguments the Republican majority used concerning judges.

Either the filibuster should always be okay or it should never be okay.
vsp
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#6 Posted on 26.5.05 0754.30
Reposted on: 26.5.12 0758.28
    Originally posted by messenoir
    Not as I see it. The minority (Brownback and his colleagues) are unfairly preventing the majority from holding a straight up or down vote. At least, these are the very same arguments the Republican majority used concerning judges.

    Either the filibuster should always be okay or it should never be okay.


Brownback two weeks ago, on judicial filibusters:

    Brownback pointed out that "we've been hung up now four years" on several of the nominees.

    "There's no sign of it ending," Brownback said. "We're kind of at the end of the string. I don't know what else we can do" (other than change the rules).


But when the subject changes to something he DOESN'T want to go through... well, then it's okay for him to morph into Jimmy Stewart and stand up for the minority, right?

(It's also unusual that both Brownback and the President are both apparently in the minority on this, despite being in the majority party.)

Since this issue is right down the Religious Right's strike zone, it'll be interesting to see just how hard Bush & Co. try to twist arms on this bill. A filibuster _and_ a presidential veto might not be out of the question.
bash91
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#7 Posted on 26.5.05 1019.03
Reposted on: 26.5.12 1026.05
Some people might say that it's a sign of a good compromise if both sides are irritated, but I'd say it's a sign that this was a really horrible deal in general. Of course, it's also noticeable here how your starting position influences how you see the compromise since I think it's obvious that the GOP got rolled big time on this deal both in numbers and politically. The end result of the deal is that Bush gets 3 of 10 filibustered nominees and the others, including Henry Saad whose only crime was telling the truth about Debbie Stabenow and then being slandered by Harry Reid, either don't get a vote or will get voted down since it appears that several of the RINO 7 will vote against those nominees as part of the "bipartisan spirit" of the compromise. Outside of baseball, I can't think of anyplace where getting thirty percent of what you want is a victory.

While the deal was bad enough for the GOP numerically, it's politically where they got absolutely hammered in this deal. There's no doubt that the Democrats won and won big with this compromise. Letting Pryor, Brown, and Owen, who just got confirmed, (news.yahoo.com) was the best possible move politically for the Democrats as it spares them having to try and actually formulate a truthful reason for why these nominees should be filibustered. In this case, by letting these nominees go, the Democrats are spared the what would surely have been an entertaining sight of having to explain how a black woman who got seventy percent of the vote in California in her reelection to the California Supreme Court and whose biggest legal sin appears to be that she is pro-life and against prior restraint in First Amendment cases is outside the mainstream of legal and political thought. They're also spared the task of having to explain why they've been lying about Justice Owen's record by citing to cases in which she doesn't say the things that Harry Reid and others have been accusing her of saying or by suggesting that the current Attorney General found her legal thought to be extreme. Finally, they're also spared the task of explaining how an allegedly racist judge, William Pryor, got the unqualified support of his local chapter of the NAACP and had the chairman of said group as one of his most vocal supporters in this fight.

By "caving" on these judges, the Democrats spare themselves a potentially embarrassing series of battles while still winning the numerical battle. In addition, this agreement gives them the ability to most easily paint the GOP as the troublemakers and extremists in any future fight while still allowing the Democrats to determine who is an acceptable nominee, in their eyes. Look at the text of the agreement
    Originally posted by Part II
    A. Future Nominations. Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the Advice and Consent Clause of the United States Constitution in good faith. Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.
    B. Rules Changes. In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment to or interpretation of the Rules of the Senate that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or Rule XXII.


It certainly looks to me like the Democrats have reserved the right to individually determine who is acceptable and who is not while the GOP has been committed to not changing the rules regarding the filibuster during this term of Congress. In other words, any Democrat, whether a signatory of this agreement or not, can still initiate a filibuster as long as there are "extraordinary circumstances" which, if one is to believe the talking heads on CNN, may be as little as a pro-life philosophy, while the GOP has, as a party, been committed to abiding by this deal barring the extraordinary circumstances of more than one of the RINO 7 actually thinking a particular judge is worth starting this whole fight over again. Game, Set, and Match, Democrats.

Realistically, the GOP gave up everything and got essentially nothing back while the Democrats gave up three judges who had the potential to be highly embarrassing and kept everything else that mattered in this fight, especially the right to filibuster Supreme Court nominees. Lindsay Graham is right that all bets would be off if the Democrats filibuster a SCOTUS nominee, but I'd be willing to bet that his determination will only apply to the first nominee. If, as is widely suspected, Rehnquist retires after this term or the next one or dies, I strongly suspect that his replacement will sail through on something like a party line vote. However, it's the next nominee where things get hairy. It's not unreasonable to think that two or more of the other justices may step down or die and the fight over their replacements will be the important one. If Rehnquist is replaced with a conservative, that's a one for one swap and it doesn't affect the balance of the court. Supposing Stevens dies, then that nominee, if conservative, does affect the balance of the court and that's the one who will get filibustered and the Democrats will have the upper political hand in that fight assuming they let the first nominee be confirmed without a filibuster. If they've done that, they've proved that they are reasonable and that their response to this nominee, whomever it might be, is also then presumptively reasonable which puts the onus on the GOP to explain why this nominee is so absolutely vital to the health and future of the Republic that they must eliminate the "rights of the minority" and shut down the Senate to get him confirmed. I just can't see that argument being successfully made in this day and age which means that the Democrats will have won.

Ultimately, the only good thing I see in this for the GOP is that this agreement was the official end of John McCain's Presidential ambitions and aspirations. I'm sure that he'll still be a player on the national scene because the media loves him but the party loyalists will never support him at the primary level and he has to know that now, sparing us the sight of his hypocritical face blathering on about how the abomination known as McCain-Feingold has helped to bring politics back to the people in a campaign ad.

Tim

(edited by bash91 on 26.5.05 1120)
DrDirt
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#8 Posted on 26.5.05 1044.26
Reposted on: 26.5.12 1048.10
    Originally posted by CRZ
      Originally posted by DrDirt
      Of interest, Brownback (R) of Kansas is threatening a filibuster over stem cell legislation.
    That's kinda apples and oranges, isn't it?


In a way it is but as others pointed out, the filibuster is okay for what WE believe in. What strikes me as dishonest is that although not a filibuster, the Republicans did the same thing to Clinton. And in truth, the overwhelming majority of appointments have been approved.
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