Table Now Set for Vote on Constitutional Option
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist offered a final compromise plan to end the partisan obstruction of the judicial confirmation process in the Senate once and for all. The plan would end filibusters of judicial nominations -- regardless of who is President or which party holds the majority in the Senate -- and requires that all nominees receive fair up-or-down votes on the Senate floor after up to 100 hours of guaranteed floor debate.
Frist bent over backwards to address both Democrat and Republican concerns with the judicial confirmation process over the last decade. Democrats have made unprecedented use of the filibuster to permanently block nominees who otherwise would be confirmed by a simple majority vote of all 100 Senators.
Unsurprisingly, Democratic leader Harry Reid immediately rejected Frist’s offer. Reid said that he could accept no compromise proposal that failed to preserve the Democrats’ ability to block consideration of judicial nominees through use of the filibuster.
Frist, on the other hand, rightly argued that filibustering of judicial nominees violates more than 200 years of Senate tradition and should end. After all, prior to President Bush’s first term, no judicial nomination with majority support was ever defeated by a filibuster.
Frist’s proposal was unquestionably the last hurdle before a showdown on the Senate floor over judicial nominations. With their evenhanded compromise offer summarily rejected, Republican leaders now feel compelled to restore fairness and end the filibusters of judicial nominees through use of a parliamentary tactic known as the “Constitutional Option.”
While the Senate is in recess this week, published reports quote Senate sources saying that a vote on the Constitutional Option will likely occur within the next two weeks.
In the meantime, Republican leaders are still lining up votes in favor of the Constitutional Option. Two Republicans, Senator John McCain (AZ) and Lincoln Chaffee (RI) have said that they will vote against the Constitutional Option. Several other Republican Senators, including John Warner (VA), Chuck Hagel (IA), and Olympia Snowe (ME) are said to be on the fence.
As a result, liberal groups led by MoveOn.org are leading a major campaign to persuade the fence-sitters to vote against the Constitutional Option. They have already spent more than $5 million on advertising and mobilization efforts.
The Center for Individual Freedom is working to counter the liberals’ wide-ranging campaign by mobilizing conservatives to fax Senators and ask them to vote in favor of the Constitutional Option.
If you’d like to take action and make your voice heard in support of the President’s rule of law judicial nominees and against the partisan obstruction that’s now plaguing the Senate, please click here.May 5, 2005
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