The Democrats have decided to filibuster the nomination by President Trump of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. There never has been the use of a filibuster to block a Supreme Court nomination in our nation’s history except for the case of LBJ who nominated Justice Abe Fortas, former Johnson mouthpiece, to be the Chief Justice in 1968. His nomination fell to a bipartisan filibuster after it became known that Fortas, while on the Court, served as a Johnson adviser and, in effect, as an unofficial member of Johnson’s cabinet. It didn’t help that, as in the case of the man who nominated him, Fortas was suspected of being a crook, a suspicion which was proved in 1969 when public outcry forced Fortas to resign from the Supreme Court.
The filibuster is a creature of the Senate rules, and like any rule in the Senate may be changed by simple majority vote. Ridding the Senate of the filibuster is called the nuclear option. The Senate went nuclear on November 21, 2013 when former Majority Leader Harry Reid, tiring of Republicans filibustering Obama’s lower court nominees, as the Democrats had the lower court nominees of Bush, pulled the nuclear trigger on November 21, 2013 to get rid of the filibuster in regard to lower court appointees. Continue Reading
Woodrow Wilson was no fan of Senate filibusters:
“The Senate of the United States is the only legislative body in the world which cannot act when its majority is ready for action. A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own, have rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible.” Woodrow Wilson, March 4, 1917.
The Democrats controlled the Senate from 1913-1919 and Wilson hated the way that Republicans could bottle up his proposed legislation through the filibuster. To mollify him, the Senate Democrats passed a rule change one hundred years ago that allowed the termination of debate on a two-thirds vote to invoke cloture. Even after cloture each Senator could speak for an additional hour on the matter under consideration before a vote was taken. Cloture existed more in theory than in practice. Over the next 46 years the Senate would vote for cloture only five times. There are several reasons why this was the case.
Filibusters added a touch of drama and comedy to otherwise dry proceedings. The public generally enjoyed them as did more than a few Senators. Many Senators prided themselves upon belonging to what they called the greatest deliberative body, and thought that the filibuster played an essential role in what made the Senate the Senate. Southern Democrats, relying on the filibuster to stop civil rights legislation, were fervent supporters of the filibuster. Many Senators realized that shifting political fortunes could turn a majority into a minority over night, and that the filibuster was the strongest tool of a minority. Continue Reading
But the most deplorable effect of all is that diminution of attachment and reverence which steals into the hearts of the people, towards a political system which betrays so many marks of infirmity, and disappoints so many of their flattering hopes. No government, any more than an individual, will long be respected without being truly respectable; nor be truly respectable, without possessing a certain portion of order and stability.
James Madison, Federalist 62
Harry Reid carried through on his threat yesterday to invoke the so-called nuclear option and take away the right of filibuster in regard to federal appointments except for the Supreme Court. The vote was 52-48 with three Democrats voting in opposition along with all Republicans. In effect the vote kills the filibuster since the majority may get rid of it completely at any time the majority wishes. That this throws out some 225 years of Senate tradition meant less than nothing to Reid and his colleagues, desperate to turn attention away from the disaster called ObamaCare and eager to implement Obama’s scheme to pack the federal appellate courts, especially the DC Circuit, with judges who will uphold the actions of this administration.
The Majority in the Senate always hates the filibuster and the Minority always loves it. There have been many threats by majorities to take away the filibuster, but until yesterday such threats were never carried out. Why? Majorities in the past always realized that one day they would be in the minority, fear of retaliation by the minority in obstructing the work of the Senate and also a realization that the filibuster normally forced the majority and the minority to work together to some extent, unlike the House. Such reasons held no weight with the Democrats yesterday, apparently the senators with Ds after their names, with three exceptions, lacking any concern with what the morrow will bring. Continue Reading
“I have allowed the president to pick his political appointees…But I will not sit quietly and let him shred the Constitution.” — Senator Rand Paul (go here for more quotes)
Update: Senator Ted Cruz reads tweets supporting Rand Paul on the Senate floor.
Rand Paul has been filibustering the nomination of Obama’s pick to head the CIA, John Brennan. He is doing so because of a consistent refusal of Obama, Brennan, Holder and other administration higher-ups to clearly and unambiguously reject policies that violate the Constitutional rights of American citizens, including the right to due process prior to the deprivation of life, liberty or property.
I’ve been skeptical of Rand Paul for some time. I didn’t mind his endorsement of Romney, but I did mind his statements pledging unconditional defense of Israel in the event they are attacked. I don’t think this country should pledge unconditional defense of any country, least of all one with a nuclear arsenal of its own. His position on immigration isn’t quite what I would like either. I want it slowed to crawl and troop deployment on the border. He’s still playing the desperate “do anything to get Latino votes” game, a losing game for the GOP no matter what they propose. But I digress.
At this moment, there is no other prospective candidate for 2016 I would even consider supporting. Though there is still time for another acceptable candidate to emerge, today’s filibuster earns him major points in my book. It may be a largely symbolic gesture, but it is a necessary one. It lets the people of this country know that those of us who still value the Bill of Rights and view those rights as sacrosanct have an advocate at the higher levels of government. The value of this can’t be overstated.
I wish him all the best and my prayers are with him.
Oh, and read my latest post at Catholic Stand 🙂
Get ready for Obama appointment, Round 2.
Supreme Court Justice Stevens announces he will retire in the summer.
Not sure how the timing will work on this, especially as Obama and the Democrats try to avoid being too contentious right before the November elections. That might play in our favor as far as getting a more moderate nominee. It will also be interesting to see if the GOP can or will delay the nominee as they have the 41 votes to filibuster.
The names being thrown around are the same ones being thrown around before; we’ll see where he goes with this pick. Time to start praying again.