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Republican Senators May 'Go Nuclear'

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the mutually-assured-destruction dept.

Republicans 323

expriest writes "In an attempt to confirm Bush's most conservative nominees to the federal bench, Senate Republican leaders are considering a nuclear option. Under this procedure, the person chairing the Senate rules that filibusters of judicial nominations are unconstitutional. Republicans claim a simple majority (51 senators) would be all that is necessary to uphold this ruling, and therefore give them the power to confirm judges. The problem with this procedure, however, is that the Supreme Court could still overrule the Senate, and the status of the then improperly confirmed judges would be unknown."

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GOP'ed words (4, Funny)

missing000 (602285) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214403)

can a republican senator even say "nuclear" correctly?

Re:GOP'ed words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214431)

What is the correct was the say it? I've always pronounced it "new-clear", while I've heard others say it as "new-cu-ler", which I'm guessing is wrong.

Re:GOP'ed words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214472)


Re:GOP'ed words (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214506)

You can't say "nu-clee-ar"
That really scares me
Sometimes a brain comes
In quite handy
But it's not going to help you
Because I won three Purple Hearts
This Land Will Surely Vote for Me!

Re:GOP'ed words (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214690)


Now I'll have that song in my head the rest of the day.

Re:GOP'ed words (1)

rwiedower (572254) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214631)

What is the correct was the say it?

I hope you're joking....

Re:GOP'ed words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214490)

"It's nukular, dummy. The 's' is silent."

Re:GOP'ed words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10215087)

Carter couldn't say it correctly either, and he was a nook-yoo-lar engineer when he was in the Navy.

Well... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214440)

I was getting tired of democracy anyway. Two and a quarter centuries of tradition isn't that big a deal to begin with.

Re:Well... (4, Insightful)

Dalcius (587481) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214485)

My understanding is that democratic senators are preventing a vote from being called to confirm Bush's nominations via filibuster. Unless someone wants to add more, I think this is a pretty clear cut-and-dry case of the democrats getting tired of democracy.

Both sides suck. Vote third party. Like companies, politicians won't change until you take your support elsewhere.


Re:Well... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214522)

Well clearly money on your civics textbook was well spent. Let me guess public school in the Regean era?

Why not google "filibustering." It's a check the minority has to prevent a tyranny of the majority.


Re:Well... (4, Insightful)

Alomex (148003) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214529)

Unless someone wants to add more, I think this is a pretty clear cut-and-dry case of the democrats getting tired of democracy.

Actually the system has worked the filibuster in as a way to let a small but substantial minority stop the dictatorship of a small majority. Republicans withheld most of Clinton's nominations using the exact same rule, as many other congresses have done.

What it would be unprecedented is to declare a 250 year old practice not valid. Because of this I suspect the Supreme Court would overrule in all of five minutes.

Re:Well... (1)

Phillup (317168) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215112)

What it would be unprecedented is to declare a 250 year old practice not valid.

This is what happens when you have a "uniter" in the White House.

He makes coming to a consensus is so easy.

Hm... if P then Q... not Q

Re:Well... (1)

Dalcius (587481) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215409)

If you want to give more power to a large minority and take away from a small majority, then alter the requirements for the vote, but at least let the vote take place. Seems a rather hackish way of solving the problem to me.

Thanks for the reply.

Re:Well... (1)

GryMor (88799) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215458)

This is slashdot, what exactly is wrong with the hackish solution? Isn't this evidence that we are the memetic descendents of those who put the hacks into the senate in the first place?

Re:Well... (4, Insightful)

GOD_ALMIGHTY (17678) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214696)

Uhhh.... yeah it's the Democrats who came up with this horrible tactic.

It's the dems trying to keep insanely far-right wing judges off the bench, using the RULES of the Senate. If you'd read the fine article, you see that they had confirmed over 160 of Bushes nominees and that these 10 are the most extreme of the total bunch he nominated. The GOP used the same tactic against Clinton, but now it's the Dems who came up with this "crazy idea"?

Please explain how the Democrats are trying to get rid of democracy. I do love tinfoil hat inspired rants.

At least it's evidence... (1, Insightful)

Slime-dogg (120473) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214441)

At least this is evidence that republican politicians are doing something. Heck, they are even attending.

The lack of news concerning democrat politicians is disturbing.

Then again, this whole story is basically a long-winded way of sayind "The system of checks and balances still works!"

A haha. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214500)

They also purposefuly change meeting scheduals to dates they know some democrats can't attend.

And of meetings on intelligence, which ones do you think the work gets done in? The public ones? No. It's so funny. The ads tell you their misleading, and yet you believe the voice over for what it says it is. You can't put forth the effort to read a score of words, most of which are read for you, and you think you've something say, that's worth hearing? Quaint.

Re:At least it's evidence... (1)

gwynnebaer (319816) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214552)

You're crazy to think that the system still works. The judicial system that you suppose is providing the checks and balances is the very system the Republicans are hoping to stack in their ideological if not political favor. How much of a balance is it when the Senate commits this kind of blatant corruption and the judicial system just says "it's ok with us"? Think about the level of mistrust exists with the average American when it comes to politicians. Do you want that level to be assigned to the judicial system as well?

Re:At least it's evidence... (2, Interesting)

macrealist (673411) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215213)

I heard a story this morning on NPR that disturbs me. It seems that a "Family Rights" group is fighting a law in California that allows same sex unions, and recently the law was upheld by a judge in Sacramento. The "Family Rights" groups response: start a campaign to recall the judge.

What ever you think of same sex marriages, this is the wrong way to fight the battle. FUD on a political scale. I haven't investigated the story in any further detail, but in the interview with the lead of the "Family Rights" group, he was very open about the fact that the reason that he was starting the recall was because of the judge's decision. FUD! FUD! FUD! The next judge will think twice, not wanting to deal with a recall, before weighing an opinion or decision against this group. THIS BREAKS our checks and balance system.

Stacking the courts in a sneaky way is not new in our political system. Yes, it is questionable, but this group of Senators aren't the first to try it. The interesting thing about it, though, is they wouldn't be trying so hard now if they thought that Pres. Bush would be the Pres. for another term and that they would remain the majority in the Senate. Not exactly a vote of confidence.

Re:At least it's evidence... (-1, Troll)

stevew (4845) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215378)

You REALLY need to get your facts straight...or maybe NPR does... now THERE is a surprise.

In CA same sex mariages are illegal. They have been illegal for awhile, and the most recent decision I've heard is where the judge threw out all of the marriages performed in SF.

Now maybe some day the people of CA will decide otherwise, but right now that is the case. It's also possible that a judge will overturn that law - though it is also the wishes of a rather large majority (60%+) as of a few years ago via the CA initiative process.

Note - marriages are different from domestic partners here. A marriage is defined as between a man and a woman. That's it. Same sex couples have most of rights here that married people do - likely not all rights, but most.

When the mayor of SF decided that he didn't like that definition he unilaterlly decided to not obey the law. Likely he broke more than one law in doing so, and possibly could be criminally prosecuted, though the CA DA has chosen not too. What he SHOULD have done is gone to court on behalf of some representative couples and challenge the law in courts. That ISN'T what he did - he just broke the law -

That's why I have no use for him.

Re:At least it's evidence... (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215214)

I disagree. Lack of news concerning congressional politicians on either side is something I find deeply comforting.

When Congress acts, be concerned.

When Congress cooperates in a bipartisan way, watch your wallet.

Gridlock is good. I actually support the nomination of several of these judges, but time wasted on these filibusters is time not spent coming up with new ways to spend my money.

Re:At least it's evidence... (2, Informative)

revscat (35618) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215240)

The lack of news concerning democrat politicians is disturbing.

Maybe that's because the Democrats aren't trying to usurp the very democratic underpinnings that this nation was built upon. While there was partisanship when the Democrats were in power, they at least attempted to give the opposing party a voice, something that the modern GOP has demonstrated *repeatedly* they have no interest in doing. The GOP is the one that has basically abandoned the committee system in favor of a "Whatever Bush or Delay wants" system, where NO compromises are made, government is closed to public or opposing scrutiny, and graft, corruption, and wanton criminality occurs at unprecedented levels.

Try turning off "Cock" Hannity and opening your eyes. The GOP is trying to turn the US into a one-party state, totalitarian and theocratic, and that is a bad thing for YOU.

Knee-slapper (0, Troll)

Golias (176380) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215366)

While there was partisanship when the Democrats were in power, they at least attempted to give the opposing party a voice...


Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!


Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!


Heh heh.

Good one.

Oh man, I just read it again...

BWAHAHAhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. ..

Re:At least it's evidence... (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215457)

The lack of news concerning democrat politicians is disturbing.

Then what do you call this [] ?

Now what is disturbing is how the media is too wimpy and broke to really stand up to the bush administration. It's amazing how the bush administration consisently says how liberal the media is, and that the liberal media is always bashing the bush administration. Nothing is farther from the truth. The media has bent over backwards since 9-11 to allow the bush administration to say what they want, rarely questioning or providing alternate views.

I'm all for increasing the efficiency (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214454)

of Congress. Now if we could just install slashcode servers for the House and Senate, with automatic e-mailing of poll results to the President, then we could REALLY get some work done!

Efficiency is bad (4, Insightful)

crow (16139) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214703)

Government, at least the creation of laws, should be inefficient. It's another check against governmental power. Some of the worst legislation was very efficiently passed--right after some crisis prompted it (the PATRIOT act is the obvious example).

Re:Efficiency is bad (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214893)

Ah, but with a truly efficient government, the repeal of such laws could come as quickly as the original pass. At least with slashcode you could hardcode the vote to not come before at least a certain number of people posted in the debate session, making it more likely that more people actually READ THE BILL before VOTING ON IT. You can't do that with verbal debates that end on a vote.

Re:Efficiency is bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10215082)

At least with slashcode you could hardcode the vote to not come before at least a certain number of people posted in the debate session, making it more likely that more people actually READ THE BILL before VOTING ON IT.

Wait, wait, wait. Are you seriously suggesting that a Slashdot-like system actually encourages people to get out and read the source materals?

BaHaHaHahahaha... (pant pant) WAHhahahahahaha... (wipes tears from eyes).... whew... heh... (coughs)

Sorry, you must be new here.

Re:Efficiency is bad (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215334)

I'm just saying what it has done for me- I've had enough RTFA responses that I now read ALL the source materials before posting. In addition, the bills debated by Congress don't have a lot of source material, and could be put into the original slashdot article. You do at least read the words posted on slashdot before responding, right?

Re:Efficiency is bad (1)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215319)

Agreed, but in this case we are not talking about the "creation of laws". We are talking about judicial appointments. The Constitution gives the president the power to appoint judges, and the Senate the power to confirm them. Using a fillibuster to prevent the confirmation seems to be preventing the Senate from doing its Constitutional duty. I think the Republicans actually have a case on this issue (provided it stays focused on appointments of judges only).

Re:Efficiency is bad (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215356)

And I'm saying that with slashcode, you could put a name up for nomination, allow 24 hours for debate, then post a poll on the topic to get the vote, without any fillibuster possible at all (because the server, not a human being, is controling the process, just as the server prevented me from posting this message within 2 minutes of the last one). We've got a great device here that could supercharge our democracy, is what I'm pointing out.

You are new here, aren't you? (0, Offtopic)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215455)

Don't remember the 503 errors that happen after every code update? The lack of any process, the rogue programmer syndrome?

What will you do when the government can't communicate and Taco only shrugs and says, "Par for the course, [] " before turning back to his gin and juice?

Is this real? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214470)

Can anyone find another source for this information? I did a lot of google searching and couldn't find anything.

A picture is worth a thousand words ... (1)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214473)

Go nuclear! []

Excuse me? (2)

avalys (221114) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214483)

and the status of the then improperly confirmed judges would be unknown

Why's that? The Supreme Court would say "no, you stupid partisan dolts, it's perfectly constitutional", the judges that were approved improperly would be removed, and new ones would need to be nominated in the usual fashion.

Re:Excuse me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214585)

Speaking as you are as a constitutional lawyer, of course ...

Re:Excuse me? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215019)

No, their status would still be unknown, just like it is with every other judge who has been filibustered by the Democrats. Without the Constitutionally-required advisory vote, the status of those nominees is up in the air - and a filibuster prevents that vote from ever happening.

Excuse me? (2, Insightful)

andreMA (643885) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214492)

person chairing the Senate rules that filibusters of judicial nominations are unconstitutional.
Ruling that something is or is not Contitutional sounds an awful lot like a function for the Judiciary. Seperation of powers and all that...

Re:Excuse me? (1)

PatHMV (701344) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214684)

You might go back and study a little bit of political history. Each officer of the federal government takes an oath to uphold the constitution. The president, vice-president, every member of Congress all take this oath. They all have their own responsibility to decide whether what they do, vote for, or sign is in accordance with their own understanding of the Constitution. The Supreme Court winds up getting the final say on issues, but that doesn't relieve the responsibility on the other participants in the system to make their own judgments, too.

And the Supreme Court regularly uses a concept it developed many years ago: "the political question" doctrine, which simply says that some issues are so intertwined with, say, the internal operations of Congress, that for it to get involved would be tantamount to improper interference of one branch of government on the other. The Supreme Court would probably duck the question on these grounds.

Going Nuclear not always a joke (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214493)

The current administration seems to have considered really going nuclear, in the form of 'tactical' nukes. See this [] for analysis. A quote:

In its 2001 Nuclear Posture Review the Defense Department envisaged nuclear options for a wider range of circumstances than ever before, and called for the development of new nuclear weapon types and heightened readiness of the Nevada test site.

Re:Going Nuclear not always a joke (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214811)

About bloody time. There are only two possible endings to the war on terror- genocide and surrender- and if we go with the first nuclear weapons will be necessary eventually.

Re:Going Nuclear not always a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214899)

You're probably trolling, but I have a soft spot for Marxists, so...

Considering the War on Terror is a figment of Bush's imagination, all that it would take is voting him out of office. There have been terrorist attacks in the past, there will be terrorist attacks in the future. They have been, and should be, delt with by the police rather than the military (maybe if Bush had started that way, Bin Laden would have been caught).

Nevermind the fact that there is no conceivable way nuclear weapons _could_ be used against indivdual terrorists (e.g. CIA: Mr. President! There is a terrorist cell in New York City! Prez: Nuke it!)

Re:Going Nuclear not always a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10215159)

You know who convinced me hydrogen, and biological weapons are the answer?

Thomas Friedman, and that Pakistani woman, Sharmeen Obaid, who might do field reporting for the BBC. There is no reasoning with the people they gave voice to. They will only accept death or surrender. Of those options, only their death is acceptable to me. So be it. Maybe after a substantial fraction of them are dead, they'll reconsider. Well, they don't call it "The Law of Unintended Consequences" for nothing.

Re:Going Nuclear not always a joke (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215391)

Where to me, armed surrender is equally as acceptable as genocide. Under genocide, we will lose our moral superiority as a nation, guaranteed, but nobody will ever fsck with us again. Under armed surrender (what one wag called my plan for "Fortress America"), we basically ignore that the rest of the world exists for a while- and kill anybody who tries to tell us different. That would cost us our economic superiority- but maybe, just maybe, when we come out a thousand years from now, the rest of the world will have caught up to us in standard of living.

Re:Going Nuclear not always a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10215027)

That's "nuwk-yoo-lur".

Simple solution (4, Interesting)

jackjumper (307961) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214511)

Have *all* judicial nominees require a 2/3 vote to confirm. Then no idealogues on either side would be affirmed.

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214632)

Holy cow. That's just stupid enough to work.

I'm serious. What a simple solution-- you don't want judges to have an opinion-- you simply want them to figure out what's constitutional and what's not. I don't know why both sides wouldn't agree to this. Get rid of the extremists!

Man. Why hasn't anybody else thought of this?

Re:Simple solution (1)

rmarll (161697) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215281)

Man. Why hasn't anybody else thought of this?

You're new to America aren't you? (I'm KIDDING you!!)

The notion of a moral compass, restraint, and compromise aren't the strong suit of our politicians. In fact in some parts of the country asking a tough question will get you challenged to a duel!

When they're in a position of power, giving it up is hard. Right or wrong, good or evil. American politics is your way right away.

Re:Simple solution (1)

PatHMV (701344) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214713)

No, then nobody would ever be confirmed.

Re:Simple solution (2, Interesting)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215321)

I don't believe it. Politicians will do what they're forced to do. If the law requires them to find a judge whom both sides approve, then they WILL find someone like that. Right now, they know they don't need to find someone like that, so they intentionally find people that will conform to their adgenda, but not be so offensive that they can't convince a few of the other side to play along.

Re:Simple solution (1)

PatHMV (701344) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215387)

If that were true, the appointments of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush would have been much different. Both have faced lengthy delays of their judicial appointments and have lost difficult nomination battles over political appointments.

Re:Simple solution (1)

ZeLonewolf (197271) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214833)

The whole concept of fillibustering is ridiculous. If a particular action requires an X% vote, yet can be fillibustered with a Y% vote, then effectively, the issue needs a Y% vote to pass. So, instead of this fillibuster bullsh*t, let's just make the requirement Y%.

Obviously it's better to get issues passed that both side can at least somewhat agree with than to have the see-saw effect. We don't need congress to swing wildly liberal or conservative as the balance of power swings back and forth...rather, we need congress to come to a consensus on things that most people agree with.

Re:Simple solution (0, Flamebait)

dpilot (134227) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215029)

Nonono. Of course we don't want see-saws or swings. We want Congress, the Presidency, and the Judiciary to move to the Far Right, and STAY THERE FOREVER.

Or at least until the Nation implodes because:
2% of the US population hold 98% of the wealth, and what's left isn't enough to maintain food, shelter, health, and clothing for the other 98% of the people.
Our economy is GONE because the creative and manufacturing base is gone, so no one can inject money in to the service sector, and the whole things goes Flush down the toilet.
Lifetimes fall and infant mortality rise because environmental regulation is 'bad science' that gets in the way of profits.

My brother (aka MacBrother, Apple MacIntosh fan) said a good 10 years ago that there were powerful forces trying to turn the United States into a third world nation. He was right, and well ahead of his time.

Re:Simple solution (3, Insightful)

martinde (137088) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215345)

> Then no idealogues on either side would be affirmed.

I have no issue with idealogues being on the supreme court on either side of the aisle. On the other hand, I don't want a court full of them who only represent one viewpoint...

Having a bunch of moderate judges doesn't seem like a good idea to me - you might as well have a "supreme judge" instead of a "supreme court" in that case, if they're all of the same mindset anyways.

(I wish I could insert a solution here, but alas, I don't have one.)

Good! (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214515)

Right or left, Republican or Democrat -- those filibusters are an outrage and they damn well should be gotten rid of. If you don't have the votes for a block, show your constituents some damn respect and accept it.

Re:Good! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214600)

We should just have one branch of government, and one party; to increase efficency mine heir!

Filibuster is a check against the critical failure of the system. Getting rid of it is a step towards tyranny.

Re:Good! (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215428)

...mine heir!

If you're going to be a Godwinist fuckwit, could you at least manage to spell one out of two trivial German words correctly?

Please stop posting. (5, Insightful)

fmaxwell (249001) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214945)

Right or left, Republican or Democrat -- those filibusters are an outrage and they damn well should be gotten rid of.

Yes, to hell with the Constitution and the founding fathers. To hell with over two centuries of legislative procedure. Make it so that a simple majority can appoint far-right or far-left leaning judges. Make it so that the Republicans can now stuff the courts with anti-choice, anti-environment, pro-big-business, anti-gay, bible thumpers.

If you don't have the votes for a block, show your constituents some damn respect and accept it.

If your constituents are liberal and the judge being proposed is a born-again-Christian who's an outspoken opponent against everything they believe in, then showing your constituents respect is using every legal means to prevent the confirmation of the judge.

If you don't understand the importance of the Constitution and why filibusters are such an integral aspect of the checks and balances, please don't post in this section.

Re:Please stop posting. (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215194)

If you don't understand the importance of the Constitution and why filibusters are such an integral aspect of the checks and balances, please don't post in this section.

Another example of the open-mindedness of so-called progressive political thought? Agree with us or shut-up! The other side is just a bunch of racist, fascist, homophobic, sexist, bible thumping, war mongers. No freedom of speech for them.

Re:Please stop posting. (2, Funny)

theghost (156240) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215375)

"Help! Help! I'm being oppressed!"

I don't think he was saying agree or shut up. I think he was saying "don't be a dumbass or shut up." Better to argue that you're not a dumbass than to argue that he's a meanie.

Oh sure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10215405)

That's right, we all know that filibusters are an integral part of the constitution.

Yeah right, pal. Try reading the document sometime rather than eating whatever Franken and Moore feed you.

you're a f'n idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214985)

A fillabuster is a side effect of healthy free speech; if our senators can't speak their minds, then who can? You can't kill a fillabuster without severly hurting free speech.

Tricky, tricky... (2)

Justen (517232) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214564)

Well, if there's a hole any politician can slither through, you can bet they'll find it sooner or later.

The particular way they apparently plan to do this, though, is dubious. The Supreme Court tends to look, not only at the letter of the law (in this case ths Constitution), but also its spirit. Clearly, Senator Frist is trying to subvert the super majority requirement written into the Constitution.

I have some doubt the Republicans would go with this. It'll only further energize the Democrats. But if they do, I have a strong feeling the Supreme Court will pretty strongly rebuke them. (Funny that the third branch of the government has to step in and make the second branch follow its own damn rules.)

We may well see an Eliminate the Fillibuster constitutional amendment to go along with the Defense of Marriage one. Maybe Senator Frist really is just itchin' to revamp the whole document, and add his name to the bottom.


Re:Tricky, tricky... (1)

PatHMV (701344) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214773)

What supermajority requirement in the Constitution? Here's what Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution says:
Clause 2: He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
It clearly says that he must have a 2/3 majority for treaties, but not for other confirmations. The Constitutional requirement is that an ordinary majority (51) has the power to confirm a president's judicial nomination. The Senate, by allowing routine filibusters on judicial nominations, is using its internal rules to circumvent the requirements of the Constitution.

Re:Tricky, tricky... (1)

Justen (517232) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214987)

I pointed out the "spirit" of the law, rather than the letter of it. You've defined a great example of it here with a clause considered to be illustrative, not exhaustive. In fact, the constitutional basis of cloture is contained in the clause you've mentioned, along with an allowance for the evolution of congressional rules in article I, section 5. Senate Rule 22 provides the clearer procedures and policies for the filibuster.

And "clearly" is not a word to be used when discussing the Constitution. It says nothing clearly, unless you want it to.


Re:Tricky, tricky... (1)

PatHMV (701344) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215344)

Interesting, that's not at all what you said in your original post:
Clearly, Senator Frist is trying to subvert the super majority requirement written into the Constitution.
Guess I'm not the only one to use the word "clear". But in my case I'm supported by the text of the Constitution, not vague appeals to its "spirit".

And if your argument is that Art.II,Sec.2,Clause 2 allows Congress to impose a supermajority requirement for appointments of all judges below the Supreme Court, that could conceivably be a valid argument given the language. But the clause says that the President shall appoint those lesser officers "whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law". It is in fact quite clear that Senate Rules are not "Law", the requirements for passing which are stated in Article I, Section 7, Clause 2. So even if Congress could impose a supermajority by virtue of II,2,2, one house of Congress acting alone could not do so.

I would hope a student of Chief Justice Marshall's namesake would think just a bit more rigorously and less partisan about such an important issue.

Hispanic community (1, Flamebait)

oldosadmin (759103) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214568)

I'm suprised the Hispanic community hasn't been outraged by some of this. One of the judges that have been unconsitutionally denied their chance would have been the highest hispanic judge in the land.

So much for Democrats being for minorities (which is an untruth anyway).

Re:Hispanic community (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214714)

But that Hispanic judge was spectacularly conservative, and thus not especially representative of the Hispanic community.

It's sort of like Republicans and Clarence Thomas-- the Democrats can't fight his appointment without losing face, because he's black, even though underneath the skin he's about as conservative as your average white CEO.

Sneaky thing, that. And if you don't think the Republicans wanted that Hispanic judge so they could push the issue in the first place, you're pretty naive.

There's the difference (0, Flamebait)

MarkPNeyer (729607) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215031)

The difference between republicans and democrats, with respect to race issues, is most clearly illustrated by the Miguel Estrada issue. The democrats wanted to deny Estrada a judgeship not only because he was conservative, but because he was a latino. The republicans don't give a damn about the color of a person's skin - they'll give anyone who's qualified a position, so long as they deserve it. Has anyone appointed more minorities to meaningful positions than bush?

The democrats, on the other hand, claim to be the party that represents the will of minorities, but then they'll criticize any minority who happens to vote republican. They derogatorily sneer at black republicans. The last thing they want is more qualified minority republicans in big name positions because it will mean that they might actually have to fight for the minority vote instead of just assumign they'll get it by drumming up racial fears and associating bush with burning churches. The democrats aren't complaning that republicans don't welcome minorities; they're complaining that republicans don't welcome liberals.

Never Happen (4, Insightful)

GOD_ALMIGHTY (17678) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214581)

John McCain would never support this. They also won't get both Senators from ME. It won't happen because the GOP can't get 51 votes. This manuever is likely to be divisive like the Gay Marriage Ban, and while most Americans may not be concerned with these little intricacies of the Senate, Senators tend to take it seriously.

Santorum would turn this country into a Judeo-Christian version of Iran if given the chance. Frist is more timid and behind the scenes, but Santorum is a freaking pit-bull for the religious right. My fellow Florida citizens have managed to embaress me about a lot of things, but electing a theocratic loon to the Senate like Santorum takes the cake. I'd have a hard time admitting I was from Penn. every time that guy made the news.

Interesting thought experiment though.

Re:Never Happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214707)

I don't know. McCain seems to be doing a lot of cowboying up lately. You can almost see the stress in him. God, he must revile Bush, it looks like he's going to have a stoke sometimes. I can only imagine he's saying to himself, "If I play my part, in four years, it'll be my turn. Then finally, integrity will return in force, and America will rise again." But I've got this sneaky feeling that the RNC people are just stringing him along and want to put someone with strong ties to the Nixon Whitehouse up in 2008.

Re:Never Happen (1)

GOD_ALMIGHTY (17678) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214783)

I've got more respect for McCain than that. He came out against the SwiftBoat lies, so I don't think one can assume he just sitting around kissing Bush's ass.

Who from the Nixon Whitehouse is either, young enough to run still, not convicted of a felony and a natural born citizen? McCain may be a good bet for 2008's GOP nomination, but I'm not sure how you managed to tie in Nixon. The Bush Whitehouse is the last stand of those old Nixonians.

Re:Never Happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10215047)

Oh I'd vote for McCain. I like him. I agree with maybe less than half of his idiology, but he's got integrity and I respond to that. I think he's really conflicted about what a "Good Soldier" would do in his situation, and this year has probably been a real test of what he believes.

But with the Nixonians running the show, and the way they use McCain to obtain a varnish of credibility, honesty, integrity, decency, that they don't have and kind of cast him aside. I don't think his part of the inner machine of RNC. I don't think they trust him. They want the glamor of the man, but none of his character.

Just the fact that, well I believe, he approches every decision based on what he honestly feels is best for everyone else, puts me at ease. He's got a kind of courage that is sorely lacking. That I don't agree with him on a lot of issues isn't terribly important, since I think that he'll consider decisions carefully, and that he won't have minions lying awake at night trying to think of ever more ways to screw me over.

Re:Never Happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214755)

My fellow Florida citizens have managed to embaress me about a lot of things, but electing a theocratic loon to the Senate like Santorum takes the cake.

What planet are you on? Santorum is from Pennsylvania [] , not Florida.

That being said, the rest of what you say is true. He's a looney, and he would turn the country into a theocracy if he had the chance.

Re:Never Happen (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214966)

While you're discussing the theocratic Senator himself, be sure to check the Santorum Google bomb before it gets wiped away...

(Google "santorum")

Re:Never Happen (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214854)

You are right on.

The U.S. today is about 75% complete in becoming a cross between Rome at the collapse of the republic and Iran in 1979.

Check out the puritan period in England, between the Jameses, for a preview of what's to come.

That means (1)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215411)

It is time to stock up on Guns and Gold. :)

Re:Never Happen (1)

Timex (11710) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215037)

They also won't get both Senators from ME.

I'd be surprised if they got EITHER senator from Maine. I was raised there, and I remember when they ran for Senate. (I didn't vote for either one of them.) Collins ran on a bunch of promises that she had no intention of keeping. She claimed at the time to have conservative leanings, but when she got to Washington, she showed her true colors. Snowe had her own issues to deal with.

It has been my personal observation that they both have slightly-left-of-center leanings. Many times, I have seen them take the Democratic side over the Republican side of the isle, even though both are supposed to be GOP members. I often wonder why they don't just quit pretending, and just shift party affiliation, just to get it over with.

Re:Never Happen (1)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215119)

most Americans may not be concerned with these little intricacies of the Senate, Senators tend to take it seriously.

Another excellent argument for term limits.

this is news? (1)

technoCon (18339) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214591)

the republicans have been whining and crying about judicial nomination filibusters and threatening to change the Senate rules to allow simple majority votes (the nuclear option) for the last two years.
what are they suggesting now that they didn't suggest then?

i'd like to see the filibusters like we saw Jimmy Stewart do in "Mr. Deeds Goes to Washington." Instead, someone just says, "i'm filibustering" and everybody stops. Going back to the old rules should have no problem with the Supremes declaring THAT illegal.

Of course, it would be interesting to see the Supremes reject nominations to the bench. That would be an interesting "separation of powers" matter. Or suppose Congress were to impeach a Supreme Court justice and then the Court rejected it.

Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10214667)

The page is already slow, article follows:

Guest Blogger: New Push To Confirm Rightist Judges?

By Simon Lazarus, Public Policy Counsel, National Senior Citizens Law Center

Beginning just before the August Congressional recess, the future of the federal judiciary has resurfaced as a prominent issue in both Congressional and Presidential politics.

During the week of July 19, Republican Senate leaders rushed four appellate court nominees to the floor for pre-recess votes; all four were blocked by Democratic filibusters. The decision to provoke successive filibusters, which nearly doubled the total number of similarly stymied Bush judicial nominations, from six to ten, appeared linked to reports that Majority Leader Frist had been persuaded by conservative advocacy groups to attempt, upon Congress' return in September, to prohibit filibusters of judicial nominations.

To achieve this result, Frist would invoke a controversial procedural maneuver known as "the nuclear option." Under this procedure, the person chairing the Senate, presumably Vice President Cheney, would rule that filibusters of judicial nominations are unconstitutional. Nuclear option proponents contend that only a simple majority vote (51 senators) of the Senate would be needed to approve that ruling - despite the fact that Senate rules require a 3/5 vote (60 senators) to stop a filibuster and a 2/3 vote (67 senators) to amend filibuster procedures. Their ploy would simply be to exploit their control of the chair to overrule or ignore Democratic objections. Then they could proceed to vote on - and, presumably, narrowly confirm - each of the would-be Bush federal judges stalled to date because Republicans could not find the 60 + votes needed to cut off debate. (Democrats have been highly selective: while filibustering these ten, exceptionally rightist candidates, they have greenlighted floor votes to confirm 198 new Bush federal judges.)

Up to this point, Republicans have not had the votes within their own caucus to pull off the nuclear option maneuver. But before the August recess, conservative Republican Conference Chair Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania told a reporter that "We're working on [rounding up] the votes to do it." On September 1, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told a breakfast gathering of Florida convention delegates that the Democrats' filibuster strategy is "inexcusable, and we're going to put an end to it."

The filibuster rule is the last remaining protection against President's often repeated aim of packing the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, with judges ideologically attuned to Justices Scalia and Thomas. The ten nominees blocked so far by filibusters include, for example, California Supreme Court justice Janice Brown, who has called the Supreme Court's 1937 decisions upholding Social Security, minimum wage, and other basic social legislation a "disaster" of "epic proportions." Another example is former Alabama Attorney General William Pryor. Pryor has called Roe v. Wade, which invalidated state anti-abortion laws, the "greatest abomination" in the history of the Supreme Court; he strongly advocates barring Medicaid beneficiaries from enforcing in court the right to treatment to which they are entitled by federal law. In addition to the 10 pending nominees who have thus far been blocked by filibusters are five additional candidates - a total of 15, enough to have a significant impact on individual circuits and the judiciary generally. These controversial appellate nominees include: William Haynes, DOD General Counsel, on whom Republican leaders have not yet sought a vote, presumably because of his involvement with administration legal memoranda on the permissibility of abusive interrogation of Afghan and Iraq war detainees; William Myers, who has advocated subjecting all regulatory actions affecting the beneficial use of property to judicial "strict scrutiny" in the same mode as governmental interference with free expresion; and former Deputy White House Counsel Brett Kavanaugh, who was deeply involved in shaping President Bush's strategy of selecting ultra-conservative nominees.

Targets of the Santorum-Frist-White House pressure campaign to short-circuit Senate rules governing filibusters were identified in the current (September 13) issue of the conservative Weekly Standard as "mostly liberals and moderates:

"senators Lincoln Chafee [RI], Susan Collins, Olympia Snow [both ME], and possibly John McCain [AZ] and Arlen Specter [PA]," [as well as] some prominent conservatives-namely Senate majority whip Mitch McConnell [KY], John Warner [VA], and Judiciary Committee mmbers Jon Kyl [AZ] and Charles Grassley [IA]."

Republican leaders have repeatedly argued that filibusters of lower court nominees are "unprecedented," "obstructionist," and antithetical to majority rule. Democrats have responded that Republicans have frequently used a variety of stonewalling tactics, including filibusters, to oppose and defeat Democratic judicial nominees - what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Points more likely to engage the attention of moderate Republicans and Senate traditionalists might include:

Extended debate in the Senate can be the only protection against all sorts of ill-considered actions profoundly detrimental to substantial minorities or even majorities. This protection is especially important in the case of judges, who have immense power to impose their views and who are guaranteed life tenure by the Constitution - so a mistaken confirmation can almost never be corrected.

The few nominees that have been the subject of extended debate were picked from the far, far right of the Republican Party. They show contempt for mainstream majority views, especially in Blue or Battleground states, which most of the senators named as "holdouts" by the Weekly Standard represent.

Extended debate is an important protection for independent-thinking and moderate senators against partisan pressure to ignore their own views and the interests of their states and constituents.

Lifting extended debate protections regarding these few Bush nominees for the lower federal courts will open the floodgates for possible extreme right-wing nominees for the Supreme Court if there is a second Bush administration.

Since all states, regardless of their respective populations, are represented each by two members in the Senate, extended debate can be an essential protection for states and regions whose interests can be overridden in the Senate by regions with many states but few inhabitants.

This latter, frequently, overlooked point is of considerable potential significance to the large industrial states on the coasts and in the Midwest. The Senate is, of course, itself a constitutionally prescribed gerrymander; as cheerfully acknowledged by conservative activist Grover Norquist in the current Washington Monthly, the right anticipates long-term, systematic exploitation of this mandated malapportionment:

"Over time, the Senate--thanks to those wonderful square states out west--will trend toward 60 Republicans as the 30 red states elect Republicans and the 20 blue states elect Democrats. The anomaly of four Democratic senators hailing from Republican North and South Dakota will come to an end, as will the Republican-held Senate seat in Rhode Island."

It is unlikely that the Republican Senate leadership and the White House will move to implement the nuclear option unless they are confident they have the 51 votes to prevail. But if they get the commitments they need, they will strike with little or no warning, and at that point there will be no practical way to counter the tactic. So prevention is the only viable defense strategy.

Whatever happens in the next month, the right will continue its drive to capture control of the judiciary, through and after the November elections. Over time, it will become increasingly difficult for moderate and independent-minded Republicans to resist that pressure, unless they perceive that they have constituents who support moderate and independent-minded candidates for the federal bench.

Only one problem? (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214698)

The problem with this procedure, however, is that the Supreme Court could still overrule the Senate, and the status of the then improperly confirmed judges would be unknown.

And the other problem of course is that unless they succeed in making it illegal for Democrats to hold the presidency or a majority in the senate, a few years down the road they'll be hoist by their own petard.

They might as well do it... (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214761)

Because the Demos damn sure will as soon as they have the minority.

The Republicans aren't going to own... (2, Insightful)

SewersOfRivendell (646620) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214765)

... the senate and house forever. The more dirty tricks they attempt now, the worse off they'll be in a majority Democratic congress. The Democrats are not going to forget this treatment (the energized base of pissed-off, open-minded progressive consitituents will not let them).

Further, if the Democrats are smart, maybe they'll start looking at ways to get rid of the extremist 'Christian' Coalition cancer, perhaps by adding laws that in some way encourage the expansion of minority viewpoints within the major parties.

The spoiled brats in the Republican party just need to accept that they aren't going to get their way all the time. Otherwise, it will return to haunt them.

Re:The Republicans aren't going to own... (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214877)

These folks believe the "rapture" is coming before that time...

Why I don't like this (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215002)

It gives more power to the executive branch, which already has vastly more political power than the Constitution ever intended.

No, I want the legislative branch to keep every check it can get on the executive branch.

Forget Demm and Rep for a moment -- we're going to have to live with this in the future.

Re:The Republicans aren't going to own... (3, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215277)

Actually, they might.

One of the things done over the past 4 years was quite a bit of Gerrymandering to cement their Congressional districts and marginalize Democrats, where they held State majorities that would allow them to do so. Texas was the one we heard most about. Someone else commented about how the Senate is already Gerrymandered by state boundaries, and will proceed toward a 60/40 Republican majority over the next years.

The Democrats are going to HAVE to forget this treatment, if we are to be One Nation. Tit for tat will just make things worse.

Nor will the Democrats be able to do squat about the "Christian Coalition." The Republicans are going to have to clean their own house. I've heard stories about non-far-right Republicans getting pretty riled up about the present state of affairs. My own tinfoil-hat theory is that the Christian Coalition has taken over the Republican Campaign Funding Committee, and that's how they have such a strong hold on the party members. "Toe the line, or we fund someone else against you in the next Primary."

My personal favorite would be a (rather bizarre, I admit) McCain/Jeffords ticket. I fear it's too late to get on the ballots, though. Such a ticket could appeal to both conservative and liberal voters, and might actually be a third-party run that could take the office.

re: Spoiled Republican brats.
IMHO the biggest failing of the Republican Party, and the Business Community that backs them, is to fail to see the difference between what you NEED and what you WANT. For almost four years now, they have been getting what they WANT, almost without exception. (this topic being one) IMHO what we NEED right now is One Nation, working together. But that's not what's happening, and it doesn't look in the cards, either.

I seriously wonder if the Nation can survive another 4 years of this Administration without some sort of *internal* catastrophe. (like a Depression) I'm not singling out Bush here, rather the Whole Mess.

BTW, if we get a Constitutional Ban on abortion, watch birth control pills. I keep hearing that low-dosage birth control pills work by preventing implantation - and that's effectively chemically-induced abortion. (of a handful of undifferentiated and unstructured cells) Besides, there's only been on Constitutional Ammendment banning a specific action - Prohibition. It's also the only Ammendment to ever be repealed. It's also not the right way to do it. If you really want that end, talk about a Foetal Rights Ammendment. that would be in keeping with the Constitution.

One Nation? (1)

PatHMV (701344) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215490)

What, like it's the evil political parties who are responsible for the divisions within this country? If they behaved this would all suddenly be a magic utopia where everybody agrees and loves each other?

There is still much more which unites us than divides us as a country. But there are real differences which wind up being reflected in the elections system. Abortion which you mention is one of those. There are deeply held believes on this issue by vast groups of citizens on both sides of the political aisle. That's not going to go away any time soon.

Rabid leftists love to demonize Republicans in general and the "Christian Right" in particular as religious zealots, simple-minded people who can't possibly think clearly enough to be taken seriously. The right thinks those leftists are selfish immoral hedonists who care only for their own pleasure. Both points of view are divisive.

Having different values and beliefs, and having those reflected in our elections, is not a bad thing. What's bad is the dehumanizing of our opponents on either side. And I have to tell you, in this election so far, it's the left who has dehumanized the right far more. Just scroll through these comments and read some of the anti-religious postings.

Re:The Republicans aren't going to own... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10215320)

The Democrats, when they next take power of the Senate, could not possibly be as "dirty" (as you called it) as they were during the Tip O'Niel years, so threatening that dirty tricks by Republicans could inspire retaliation is a pretty empty threat.

"What? You mean if we continue to be almost as corrupt as you were last time you ran things, you might want revenge next time you run things? Oh no! Not that!"

That's not the only problem (1)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214774)

The other problem with this is that they could have it used against them, next. For instance, should Kerry win and appoint judges not meeting the approval of a slightly Democratic Senate, the Republicans wouldn't be able to filibuster those choices themselves. As they did during the Clinton Administration, if memory serves.

Unless they're truly cynical, and expire such a rule on Jan 19, just before inauguration. But I think that would be really very surprising.

Spelling! (0, Offtopic)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214922)

I thought the republican spelling was 'nukular'

filibusters should be illegal (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 9 years ago | (#10214932)

Filibusters should be illegal with the only penalty is the lost position of any one found guilty of it. Our government could be better run if delaying tatics like this were removed.

Re:filibusters should be illegal (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10215054)

Isn't it cute how some people cling to the belief that having the government get things done is actually a preferable outcome?

I prefer my government deadlocked. Safer that way.

George W Bush... (1)

CokoBWare (584686) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215015)

When asked to comment on this story, President Bush was quoted say "nucular" yet again.

Can't someone just tell 'em to shut up?!? (1)

jbarr (2233) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215115)

I mean, if they're filibustering, can't someone throw a chair at him or Duct tape his mouth or something? C'mon, there has to be a better way!

What could the Supreme Court do? (1)

ElForesto (763160) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215305)

I just refreshed my memory on Article II, Section 2 (which gives the President nominating power), and the way I read it is that the Senate can approve any nominee with a simple majority. The Constitution doesn't spell out HOW the Senate must do it, so changing the procedural rules should, as I understand it, be perfectly legal and Constitutionally sound.

Didn't Roosevelt try something like this? (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 9 years ago | (#10215312)

His second term, Supreme Court tossed a bunch of New Deal laws, he tries some kind of novel and slimy trick to get rid of all of them? Don't have the history book here at work to check it out. I only remember that it backfired badly, with moderate demos jumping ship and condeming him.

Is it worth it? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10215351)

The fact that republicans will nominate "conservative" judges is one of the main reasons why I continue to vote for them although I am not part of any political party. Given this, it is very tempting to want to see this happen as it is frustrating when a fillibuster prevents a straight vote from occuring like it should. Still, I would hate it the next time the democrats have the majority and start trying to ram more "liberal" judges onto the bench.

I think the main problem we have here is the judicial side of the house is getting too powerful. Look at Massachusettes for example, Gay marriages did not come due to any Legislative process, rather it came because the judges decided it should be so.

What I would like to see is less power for judges to "write" their own laws through edict. I'd like to see more of judges applying the law rather then deciding they don't like the law that was created by the representatives we elected. Additionally, a clear method of removal of judges from the lowest level up to the Supreme court via super-majority initiative vote should also be established. By doing this, it makes it less of a threat when an "extreme" judge is put in place. If they are causing a problem then kick them off the bench!
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