Thursday, May 19, 2005

Restore Senate Tradition

The great Charles Krauthammer clarifies the issues surrounding the Democratic Party's postion with respect to the Senate filibuster of President Bush's judicial nominees.

The Democrats are afraid that they are playing a weak hand, and they are. Most Americans understand that the Constitution requires a majority vote in the Senate to confirm a judge, and we also understand that the effort by the Democrats to overlay a 60% requirement for judicial confirmation is not in accordance with the Constitutional requirement. The Republicans will restore the Constitutional requirement and face little or no punishment from the voters. The Democrats, on the other hand, have promised their voters that they will stop all Senate business if their "right" to filibuster judicial nominees is taken away. They will be sorely punished for that. They will try to blame the Republicans, but they will fail.

The great Charles Krauthammer spells it all out.

Nuclear? No, Restoration
There has certainly never been a successful filibuster in the case of a judicial nominee who clearly had the approval of a majority of the Senate. And there has surely never been a campaign like the one undertaken by the Democrats since 2001 to systematically deny judicial appointment by means of the filibuster.

Two hundred years of tradition have been radically and unilaterally changed by the minority. Why? The reason is obvious. Democrats have not had a very good run recently in the popularly elected branches. Since choosing the wrong side of the counterculture wars of the 1960s, they have won only three of the last 10 presidential elections. A decade ago they lost control of the House for the first time in 40 years, and now have lost all the elected branches. They are in a panic that they will lose their one remaining ability to legislate -- through the courts.
It is the Democrats who are trying to change the way things are done.
Democrats are calling Frist's maneuver an assault on the very essence of the Senate, a body distinguished by its insistence on tradition, custom and unwritten rules.

This claim is a comical inversion of the facts. One of the great traditions, customs and unwritten rules of the Senate is that you do not filibuster judicial nominees. You certainly do not filibuster judicial nominees who would otherwise win an up-or-down vote. And you surely do not filibuster judicial nominees in a systematic campaign to deny a president and a majority of the Senate their choice of judges. That is historically unprecedented.

The Democrats have unilaterally shattered one of the longest running traditions in parliamentary history worldwide. They are not to be rewarded with a deal. They must either stop or be stopped by a simple change of Senate procedure that would do nothing more than take a 200-year-old unwritten rule and make it written.
It is time for Senator Frisk to pull the trigger.

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