Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Tuesday | March 11, 2003

Bush calls for mandatory judge votes

Wow. Finally something both Bush and I agree on. Almost. In an accidental sort of way...

President Bush, his appeals court nomination of Miguel Estrada mired in party politics, called Tuesday for a ban on judicial filibusters and a mandatory vote on all court nominations he and future presidents send to the Senate.

In a letter read on the Senate floor by Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., Bush called for a permanent rule "to ensure timely up or down votes on judicial nominations both now and in the future, no matter who is president or which party controls the Senate. This is the only way to ensure our judiciary works and that good people remain willing to be nominated to the federal bench."

Where Bush and I part ways is when the new rules would take place. Given the treatment Clinton received with his judicial choices during the past eight years, a bit of payback is in order. The GOP can't change the rules it set itself now that it's politically non-expedient. (Well, it can, and it has, but it shouldn't.)

Instead, the new rule should take effect for the next president of the United States. Thus, it would be in force for a Dem president in 2005 or a Republican successor to Bush (god forbid) in 2009.

And we should also see the end of the "blue slips" and other parliamentary procedures the GOP wielded to deny Clinton's judges a fair hearing.

Then, and only then, would this new rule make sense. Otherwise, Bush is merely playing the same game of judicial politics he blames Dems of playing.

Democrats said GOP senators have blocked Democratic judicial nominees from getting confirmation votes in the Senate as well.

"Because that precedent stands in the way of their political ends, Republicans now seek to deny their own words and their own actions," said Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota. "They're here today to claim that the Constitution is threatened by the very same procedures that they themselves have employed. They're here today to claim the Constitution is going to be threatened by the very same powers that it grants."

Incidentally, don't look now, but we'll have new Dem filibusters against Judges Priscilla Owens and Charles Pickering. I'm especially relishing the Pickering renomination.

Posted March 11, 2003 12:54 PM | Comments (23)


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