« If there's no fire nor even smoke, there's always hot air — Riiiight? | Main | Specter as ghoul in the middle? »

Monday, February 21, 2005

More misleading MSM spin re renominated judicial candidates

I can't resist the urge to comprehensively fisk this badly misleading editorial from Newsday. My comments are bracketed and in green:

"The president looks like he is still more interested in picking fights than picking judges." That's Sen. Edward Kennedy's reaction to George W. Bush's decision to send seven nominations for the federal bench, previously derailed by Democratic filibusters, back to the Senate for another go. [This is just short of Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid's brand of outright lying, but likewise promotes the false impressions that either the full Senate has previously voted on any of the resubmitted nominees, or that the full complement (or even a majority) of senate Dems has previously voted in favor of filibustering any of them.] Flip that pithy observation and you've got advice Bush should heed. [Sen. Kennedy and Newsday appear to believe that the Constitution imposes on the Senate an affirmative duty to "advise and block." These fights were quite literally picked — very selectively, based on which nominees their spin and disinformation could best be adapted to wound — and are being maintained by the very small handful of Democrats on the Judiciary Committee.]

Pick judges, Mr. President, not fights.  [Pithier advice for the Dems: Let every vote be taken!]

Bush has had great success in winning Senate confirmation for his judicial nominees: 204 confirmed, 10 blocked. He should declare victory and move on to new nominees rather than refighting old battles. But instead he has renominated seven of the rejected 10 for Senate consideration. [This was a major issue in the 2004 presidential campaign, in which Dubya was indeed victorious, and in a variety of Senate races that resulted in a larger Republican majority. Having won these elections, Newsday would now have Dubya and the Republican senators who campaigned on this issue break their promise to voters. By whose estimation would that be a victory? Perhaps instead the Senate Dems should recognize defeat, and move on to new battles.]

The White House says this fight is really about nominees for powerful federal appeals courts, where the numbers are less impressive: 51 nominees, 10 filibustered. [Actually, I am impressed by those numbers. They mean that eight percent of the Senate has, all by itself, blocked almost twenty percent of Dubya's circuit court nominees, and has kept one hundred percent of the Senate from holding an up-or-down vote. Impressive indeed! But hardly admirable or consistent with the Constitution.] Bush wants all of his nominees to have an up or down vote by the full Senate which, coincidentally, has a 55-member Republican majority. [Not a coincidence at all. See above re the 2004 election; see also U.S. Constitution, article 2, section 2, clause 2, providing for a simple majority advice and consent vote.]

But the handful of nominees blocked by Democrats were too far out of the judicial mainstream or too unforthcoming in committee hearings to warrant lifetime jobs as powerful federal appeals court judges. [Sez who? A minority of senators from the minority party. If fifty-one senators, of whatever party affiliations, agree that these nominees "were too far out of the judicial mainstream" or "too unforthcoming [sic] in committee hearings," then their nominations will be disapproved. But as things have been, a handful of senators have simultaneously strangled both the presidential nomination power and the Senate's advice and consent role. It's hard to imagine anything more elitist and less small-d democratic.] By shoving them back at Democrats, Bush has chosen confrontation over consultation or conciliation. [If we're going to get alliterative here — and by all means, let's! — I'd say Dubya has chosen constancy, candor, and constitutionalism over craven capitulation.]

His in-your-face move has set the stage for a disruptive, unnecessary fight over the filibuster, a time-honored Senate tactic that is one of the few weapons available to a party in the minority. It takes 60 out of 100 votes to end a filibuster and move on to an up or down confirmation vote. [This is highly misleading. No one is trying to end the historical practice of the filibuster outright. This is an attempt to restore the filibuster to its traditional and historic (albeit extraconstitutional role), in which it was used, sometimes nobly and oftentimes not, to temper blunt majority rule. Arguably that's a good thing for one chamber of a bicameral legislature to permit. But before 2001, the filibuster was never used to block Senate votes on judicial nominees to circuit or district court benches; with respect to those votes, this is not a "time honored tactic," but a radical power-grab by a minority of senators from the minority party.]

Senate Republicans could resort to the so-called nuclear option: Their majority could pass a rule expressly barring the use of a filibuster to block judicial nominees. If they do, Democrats have promised to respond in kind by using procedural tactics to grind Senate business to a messy halt. [We could call this the "nuclear option" and the "Jonestown counteroption." Ask Newt Gingrich how well the voting public responds to comprehensive legislative shutdowns. "Vote Dem in 2006! We can't win in a fair vote, but we know how to take our football and go home!"]

This is all just a warm-up for the main event: eventual fights over Bush Supreme Court nominees. [True.] But the nation is not well served by hyper-partisan warfare over the men and women who will serve as judges for life. [Also true. See comments above about who picked the fight, and who desperately wants to use hyperpartisan means to circumvent the last election returns and the Constitution's judicial confirmation process. See also the U.S. Constitution's provision cited above re the Senate serving the nation.] Reasonable people would reason together. Republicans and Democrats should, too. [And reasonable senators, Republican or Democrat, should do what the Constitution instructs and the voters expect them to do — after "reasoning together," then hold an open floor vote to reject or confirm this or any President's judicial nominees. That's called being a United States Senator first, and a partisan Republican or Democrat second.]

Fish, barrel, rat-ta-tat-tat.

Posted by Beldar at 05:03 PM in Law (2006 & earlier), Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to More misleading MSM spin re renominated judicial candidates and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) LazyMF made the following comment | Feb 21, 2005 7:19:55 PM | Permalink

You said:

"Having won these elections, Newsday would now have Dubya and the Republican senators who campaigned on this issue break their promise to voters."

The Newsday piece is not aimed at Republican senators. It is aimed at Bush.

Do you really think people voted for Bush because he promised to re-urge those 10 nominations? He cannot claim a mandate for everything he said on the campaign trail or for which he failed during his first 4 years.

(2) Ben made the following comment | Feb 21, 2005 9:35:25 PM | Permalink

"Bush wants all of his nominees to have an up or down vote by the full Senate which, coincidentally, has a 55-member Republican majority."

This has to be one of the dumbest sentences I have ever read. "Bush wants something that, coincidentally, is good for him." Stop the presses! Insight of the century!

(3) Steven Jens made the following comment | Feb 22, 2005 9:50:33 AM | Permalink

I doubt that most people who voted for Bush did so primarily because they wanted his judicial nominees confirmed, but it seems pretty clear that they didn't vote for him because they wanted his appointments scuttled.

John Thune was elected because voters want Bush's appointments confirmed.

In general, very few people will agree with anyone they vote for on everything. But an election is an investment of public trust in a politician's judgment, and it doesn't make sense to say, "you've won reelection so you should back down on your platform." The fact that Bush was reelected and that his party gained seats in the Senate doesn't mean that the voters are necessarily on his side on this issue. But, ceteris paribus, that's the way to bet.

(4) Kathy made the following comment | Feb 22, 2005 9:53:52 AM | Permalink

Exactly Beldar! And if the obstruction continues, the Senate democrats hand the Republican party a winning issue in red states with democrat senators seeking reelection in 2006. The question the democrats must ask is how many more senate seats they are willing to lose over the judiciary. It's a win/win for the republicans - they get their judges anyway, and can use this issue effectively again.

(5) SemiPundit made the following comment | Feb 22, 2005 1:00:09 PM | Permalink

After the 2006 and 2008 elections, when the Democrats regain control of the White House and the Senate, should a nominee who not only supports abortion, but is openly gay be afforded a full-Senate vote?

(6) Neo made the following comment | Feb 22, 2005 1:00:31 PM | Permalink

One is left to wonder just how these guys would react to the "thermonuclear option" of having Bush swear in the nominees after an "up" vote by the Judiciary Committee and a vote of "no vote" by the Senate as a whole.
I know that the option of "no vote" is being systematically denied to voters as electoral commissions are "enhancing" the "no votes" into something else, but the power of the "no vote" could and should be reaffirmed by the President via the "thermonuclear option."

(7) Steven Jens made the following comment | Feb 22, 2005 5:10:58 PM | Permalink


I couldn't find an explicit position on abortion for (lesbian) judge Deborah Batts, who was approved by the Senate in '94 "with no challenges" (according to that link), but based on some of the statements I came across, it seems likely that she supports abortion.

That doesn't address whether Beldar (or I, or anyone else who was not in the Senate in 1994) thinks a filibuster would have been inappropriate. But I would be interested to know whether a gay nominee who supported abortion ever has been filibustered.

(8) Milhouse made the following comment | Feb 23, 2005 5:47:12 PM | Permalink

No gay nominee who supported abortion has ever been filibustered, because no judicial nominee has ever been filibustered until last year. Filibustering a judicial nomination to death has never been done, in the entire history of the Senate. Some nominations have been debated until a majority was convinced to vote against them, or until the president was convinced that there would be no majority for them, and withdrew the nomination, but no judicial nominee who would have won an up-or-down vote has ever had such a vote filibustered. Until last year.

(9) Carol_Herman made the following comment | Mar 1, 2005 12:18:02 PM | Permalink

I'm not a lawyer, but at this moment I'd like to play one. Because I'd know the difference between the bank, where the money is. And, the street. Where you'd be lucky to find a dropped dime.

In court, if you're serious about your profession, you immedidately upon entering, weigh our surroundings. And, you "read your judge." (Sometimes, as you know from my mouth, some judges have no good character.)

The same is true about the elected officials we get to choose, whom we send to Congress.

Ah. And, that Senate is a doozy! On par with Hollywood's aging stars, whose momentum always runs towards the cameras.

Oh, it helps if you can do the math.

And, it helped me, when I read Powerline on this subject, that Schumer wants to fanagle a play he last did, where he cheated. He got Bush to send a "mixed list." ALL were supposed to pass muster. But only the black candidates got approved. (One was a man appointed temporarily by Clinton.) Across the board, I'm sure they're good picks.

But Bush has been fooled once. (Going back into history, when the stack was different, Eisenhower did work with democrats in Congress. Meeting their leaders on Fridays. So that confirmations and laws were passed smoothly, enough.) I might add that the democrats feared Eisenhower! Why? Because Eisenhower could reach the People with the same authority that would later be bested in Ronald Reagan.)

Reagan's team, however, was faulty. When he won his re-election in 1984, the stupidest of musical chairs was played, and the most incompetent man, Don Regan, became Chief of Staff. And, loused up many of Reagan's plans, that needed senate approval. And, Regan was far too nice to intercede.

That's not this president!

What's forming, perhaps, now, is the perfect storm? As I said, I'm just an inexperienced layman. With a history of voting for democratic candidates. Going back to JFK. Where I cast my first vote (against Nixon). By the way, it was on this lack of popularity for Nixon in New York (where I lived at the time) ... and the monopoly that the MSM held ... that Nixon fell.

An old battle. It wasn't the war. And, the republicans have cleaned up their act, totally. It's the dems who are shedding voters right and left. Even the pool of voters calling themselves "independent" has dropped. Perhaps, because Jeffords is their poster child?

It's going to be in the numbers. The powers that once resided in LBJ's hands, when he was the head Senate honcho is long gone. Dr. Frist doesn't have the same powers. But he can count. And, he carries lots of carrots, still, in his pockets. Best, of course, is that he can count!

If there's a death wish it comes from the right's rejection of women's choice. Why? Because there's lots of stuff that's horrible in life. And, all we buy when we turn new crimes over to the police, is a general fall down of respect for the law.

Let me explain. WHen people were forced to drive 55 mph, or face ticketing; people drove fast, anyway. Every day, Americans were turned into law breakers.

Today? The drinking age of 21 is unrealisticly high. And, people cope by cheating. At home. And, yes, in bars, too. But generally the public gives a pass.

As it does on weed, grass, or marijuana. Something most of us know when we smell it being smoked nearby. (I don't smoke. But then, I don't smoke, PERIOD.) It hurts to get that crap in the back of my throat. As does whiskey. How do people swallow? Beats me.

Even fine french wines, I always ask for a full glass of ice. Then it's consumable. But I want you to know that laws that are directed at the heads of average citizens doesn't make our streets, or roads, any safer. (And, we're all joking about airline safety, while we're at it, too).

What's the major problem? We're the suckers that need to be taxed, so that government can afford to be run. And, for decades, we've put up with inefficiencies. Even though the world of computers beacons. Won't even the law change? And, streamline, ahead?

What price have we paid by allowing the pharmaceuticals and the insurance companies to benefit at public expense? You got a safety record, here, you can point to?

"Out there" are millions and millions of disgusted, disgruntled customers ... just waiting to see what the stupid senate does ahead. While Bush has to play his cards, carefully. I don't expect "activist judges" to get anywhere. As I've written about before, most of the democrats have managed to make the place smell of crap. Let me list a few of the odors: Kids whose moms cry at night. Kids who go to school and are faced repeatedly with incompetent teachers and administrators, so that the good isn't what's gonna be remembered. Condoms will be remembered. Served with bananas. And, arguments that math doesn't count, because the teacher doesn't know the subject. And, in the courts, oh, my, what games get played.

Did you ever get a traffic ticket? Want to know what I've noticed? The Chinese, in particular, always call lawyers. And, are always represented in Traffic Court, where they lose all their English speaking abilities. And, here's the big secret: IF you get ticketed on any of California's highways by SHERIFFS? GO TO COURT! The Chinese keep asking for the guy who gave the ticket to appear. To such a point that the police no longer send anybody. (This is not true if you got ticketed on local streets.) It's a walk, if the policeman isn't there. And, the judge gives you the opportunity to declare you're own guilt, if by a miracle, the officer showed up.

What a world we live in! The government is so far behind the curve that we can expect the Senate, here, to make mistakes. But Karl Rove is watching the board. I don't expect that Bush will make a single error.

The comments to this entry are closed.