The Republican move to end judicial filibusters and the resulting ruling from the chair interpreting the Senate rules is necessary to restore more than 200 years of Senate tradition. Don't Buy the Democrats' "Rules Change" Spin

As press attention has focused on the Senate’s debate on judicial confirmations, many reporters, as well as Democrats and their allies, have said that the present debate could culminate with a “Republican-led effort to change the Senate rules” to overcome Democratic filibusters of judicial nominees.

But the assertion that Republicans are planning to “change Senate rules” is creative political spin by Senate Democrats and their surrogates.

Simply put, there is no scenario currently being contemplated that would actually change the Senate rules.

Under the most commonly discussed scenario, Republicans would seek a ruling from the chair, through a “point of order,” on the issue of judicial filibusters. This ruling would be an interpretation of existing Senate rules made to address an uncontemplated and unprecedented situation -- the Democrats’ abuse of the filibuster to sustain their systematic obstruction of confirmation votes on nominees to federal appeals courts.

According to Riddick’s Senate Procedure, “Points of order or questions of order are directed against present actions being taken or proposed to be taken by the Senate and deemed to be contrary to the rules, practices, and precedents of the Senate." Thus, rulings on points of order cannot “change Senate rules.” They can only interpret existing rules.

The Republican move to end judicial filibusters and the resulting ruling from the chair interpreting the Senate rules is necessary to restore more than 200 years of Senate tradition and precedent and end the partisan obstruction that’s plaguing the judicial confirmation process.

May 19, 2005
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