Monday, 23 May 2005

Great taste, less filibuster

Well, that was fun while it lasted:

Fourteen Republican and Democratic senators announced this evening they had reached a compromise designed to prevent a showdown over President Bush’s judicial nominations.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), speaking for the group of seven Republicans and seven Democrats, announced the agreement at a news conference at 7:40 p.m.

Under the deal, the Democrats agreed to accept cloture votes on three of President Bush’s judicial nominees: Priscilla R. Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor.

In return, the Republicans pledged not to support the so-called “nuclear option” to end the ability of the minority to use filibusters to block nominees.

I suppose it’s interesting that the guaranteed votes are for the three nominees anyone had ever heard of. Now at least Washington can move on to its next kabuki theatre event. (þ: Robert Tagorda)

Update: Steve at Begging to Differ provides a conventional wisdom watch (McCain, Reid win; Bush, Frist lose) that sounds reasonably right to me, while Stephen Bainbridge thinks it was a worthwhile compromise. I tend to agree with BTD Steve that Republicans probably won’t get the credit for being “bipartisan,” but if you’re the sort of person who likes the small-c conservative nature of the filibuster, Bainbridge points out it’s the smart long-term move—although, should the Democrats ever regain the majority, there’s nothing stopping them from going “nuclear” absent some (highly unlikely) pangs of conscience due to further hypocrisy on their part.


Any views expressed in these comments are solely those of their authors; they do not reflect the views of the authors of Signifying Nothing, unless attributed to one of us.
[Permalink] 1. flaime wrote @ Tue, 24 May 2005, 11:15 am CDT:

Owen and Pryor are two of the judges that I don’t want on the circuit. They are nutjobs. Rogers’ judicial record seems okay, though her personal views seem rather wingnutty to me. Indeed, Rogers is about the only of one these seven that hasn’t engaged in specific judicial activism on the state bench.

Of course, if we would just pass a constitution amendment saying that the government can’t pass laws preventing people from taking action that doesn’t harm another person, and that corporations cannot be considered persons under the law, most of this wouldn’t matter.

[Permalink] 2. flaime wrote @ Tue, 24 May 2005, 11:20 am CDT:

Oh, and none of this would really be an issue if Lott hadn’t eliminated anonymous holds on judicial nominees.



There’s enough hypocrisy to go around in this whole affair. But the one thing that has puzzled me is why Senators would willingly sacrifice their own power to act as a counterweight to the executive. Whatever you think of the filibuster itself, don’t you think it’s a bit pathetic to have Senators acting as the president’s mouthpiece on the Senate floor? What happened to respect for the institutional powers of the Senate? (This is different from giving a mere account of 200 some odd years of Senate tradition. That distinction was lost on the likes of Cornyn, I’m afraid.)


I suspect that senators who don’t think the Senate (or, rather, individual members of the Senate, since filibusters and holds are the actions of individuals rather than the collective) has used its powers responsibly would favor reducing those powers. Gingrich made comparable reductions in the institutional capacity of the House, only some of which were offset by greater centralization of authority in the speaker’s chair, for similar reasons.

[Permalink] 5. flaime wrote @ Thu, 26 May 2005, 9:28 am CDT:

I would think that centralization of authority in either the House or the Senate would be decidedly anti-democratic. It gives power to those leader disproportionate to their role as elected members of the legislative body. Of course, I really think that the legislative houses need to be run by “non-partisan” persons who have no votes aren’t members of the body the direct, and that bills and such need to be brought up when in the order they are submitted by the members.

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