Damn Lies and the Fight Over Judicial Confirmations
political climate, partisan street brawls are the norm, not the
exception, in our nation’s capital. Whether the issue
is Social Security reform, the war in Iraq, a national energy plan
or which forgotten somebody should appear on the next commemorative
stamp, Washington has become notorious for its bloody battles.
For the most
part, fact-based substantive arguments are usually presented by
both sides to support their heated rhetoric. But occasionally
an issue comes along that makes one side so desperate, so frantic,
that lies and misinformation not facts dominate their
Such is the
case in the current battle royale over judicial confirmations in
more and more apparent that Majority Leader Bill Frist will indeed
act to finally end the unprecedented filibusters being used to block
fair up-or-down votes on the President’s judicial nominees.
And with nowhere else to turn, Senate Democrats and their special
interest counterparts have resorted to lies and distortions in an
attempt to sway public opinion against the “Constitutional
Option,” or as it’s more dubiously called, the “Nuclear
of President Bush’s judicial nominees have even implied that
the move to eradicate judicial filibusters would eliminate all
filibusters, including legislative filibusters. In fact, People
for the American Way, the Hollywood-funded group leading the charge
against the President’s judicial nominees, launched a multi-million
dollar ad campaign suggesting just that.
But the group
out of La-La Land knows full well that nothing could be further
from the truth.
Option would leave untouched any Senator’s ability to filibuster
legislation, while at the same time restoring Senate tradition and
Constitutional sanity to the broken judicial confirmation process
by allowing all 100 Senators to exercise their obligation of “Advice
and Consent.” As Senator Frist recently stated, "None
of our proposals to give judicial nominees fair up-or-down votes
would limit the filibuster on legislation or bills. A lot of these
television ads you're seeing are flat wrong. The fact of the matter
is that nothing will ever prevent 'Mr. Smith' from going to Washington
and taking a stand on the Senate floor. And we will guarantee he
can vote to confirm or reject judicial nominees!"
In their latest
attempt to squash the Constitutional Option, Senate Democrats have
resorted to yet another fabrication. Reading straight
from a memo handed to them by their special interest friends, Democrats
are now saying that “use of the filibuster against judicial
nominations has a long history.” As evidence, they argue
that the nominations of Richard Paez and Marsha Berzon, two of President
Clinton’s picks to serve on the Ninth Circuit, were subjected
to Republican-led filibusters.
In 2000, then-Senate
Majority Leader Trent Lott used cloture motions to overcome individual
Senators’ holds on Judge Paez and Judge Berzon and to move
their nominations to up-or-down votes on the Senate floor.
Both were confirmed and sit on the Ninth Circuit today. Indeed,
Judge Paez received 59 votes, one shy of the 60 votes Senate Democrats
are requiring now.
As Senator John
Cornyn recently pointed out, “If these nominees are their
examples of filibusters, it is then fair to ask that the Senate
treat President Bush’s nominees the same: by having an up-or-down
vote on their nominations.”
The simple truth
is that, until recently, the filibuster was never used to defeat
a judicial nominee who enjoyed majority support in the Senate.
Even Robert Bork, whose confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court was
defeated, received the courtesy of an up-or-down vote on the Senate
floor. Moreover, in addition to Judge Paez, several “controversial”
nominees have been confirmed with less than 60 votes, including
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who received 52 yea votes.
For four years,
Senate Democrats have conducted a campaign of misinformation and
character assassination to block many of President Bush’s
judicial nominees. Unfortunately, these tactics are nothing
new in politics. What is new, however, is the minority’s
unprecedented abuse of the filibuster to deny many of these highly
qualified men and women fair consideration in the Senate.
the rhetoric and lies, opponents of the Constitutional Option know
this all too well.
In 1998, Senate
Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy, a leading proponent
of the Democrats’ current filibuster strategy, opined on the
Senate floor, “I have stated over and over again on this floor
that I would refuse to put an anonymous hold on any judge; that
I would object and fight against any filibuster on a judge, whether
it is somebody I opposed or supported; that I felt the Senate should
do its duty. If we don't like somebody the President nominates,
vote him or her down.”
couldn’t agree with you more.
April 28, 2005]