Patterico's Pontifications

4/28/2005

Confrontation on Filibusters: Once Again the Republicans’ Fault

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Judiciary — Patterico @ 7:33 pm

According to the L.A. Times, when Republicans reject Democrat offers to compromise on the filibuster, that shows an eagerness for confrontation on the part of Republicans. And when Democrats reject Republican offers to compromise, that shows an eagerness for confrontation on the part of . . . Republicans.

Yesterday, the paper ran an article about the Republican rejection of the Democrats’ silly non-starter of a compromise offer, which contemplated confirming three judges in return for an unlimited Democrat veto over all future Bush appointees. That laughable “offer” was portrayed yesterday as a genuine effort to compromise and avoid confrontation:

Senate Republicans on Tuesday rebuffed a Democratic overture aimed at ending a confrontation over federal judges, saying that any agreement must include a pledge not to filibuster future nominees — especially Supreme Court nominees.

(More on yesterday’s article in my post from yesterday.)

Today Bill Frist has made his own offer. It is an effective response to the left’s nonsensical claims that efforts to shut down the filibuster are an effort to shut down “debate.” To demonstrate the insincerity of that Democrat argument, Frist has offered Democrats 100 hours to debate judicial nominees, on condition that the nominees get an up-or-down vote at the end of the debate.

If the filibuster controversy were truly about debate, this compromise offer would be accepted.

Naturally, it was rejected.

The rejection shows clearly that this controversy isn’t about preserving the right to debate — it’s about blocking nominees, pure and simple. If this is a non-starter of an offer, that’s because one the Democrats’ prime arguments in favor of the filibuster — the need for robust debate in the Senate — is completely disingenuous.

So how is Frist’s compromise offer portrayed in the L.A. Times? Simple: Frist is choreographing a confrontation:

In a piece of parliamentary choreography that moves the Senate closer to confrontation, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) offered today to give Democrats 100 hours to debate judicial nominees on the condition that they permit a vote on each nominee at the end of the debate.

So: Republicans reject a Democrat compromise offer — that’s Republicans seeking confrontation. Democrats reject a Republican compromise offer — that’s still Republicans seeking confrontation.

To the L.A. Times, it doesn’t matter which side makes a compromise offer, which side rejects it, or what the actual merits of each offer might be. In each case, the theme is always the same: any confrontation is the Republicans’ fault.

P.S. Today’s Times story looks like a first draft. The extended entry will memorialize the content in case it changes.

Democrats Reject Frist’s Filibuster Deal

By Maura Reynolds, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — In a piece of parliamentary choreography that moves the Senate closer to confrontation, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) offered today to give Democrats 100 hours to debate judicial nominees on the condition that they permit a vote on each nominee at the end of the debate.

Minority Leader Harry Reid immediately rejected the offer, but said he was willing to continue discussions.

“I don’t really like the proposal given, but I’m not going to throw it away,” Reid said.

Frist had long pledged to make a compromise offer, which has been widely expected as a final gesture before Republicans proceed with what has become known as the “nuclear option” — changing Senate rules to prohibit the use of the filibuster on judicial nominations.

“Sen. Reid and I have been talking almost every day on this issue. And I’m hopeful he’ll accept my offer as a solution,” Frist said on the Senate floor. “It may not be a perfect proposal for either side, but it’s the right proposal for America.”

Reid said the proposal violated his bottom line, which is that the filibuster — a tactic used by a minority of senators to block a vote by refusing to end debate — must remain intact.

“Thanks for the offer, but I think it was a big, wet kiss to the far right,” Reid said.

For his part, Frist made clear that his bottom line was that Democrats must not be able in the future to block votes on judicial nominees — especially nominees to the Supreme Court or appellate courts.

“Senators have a duty to vote up or down on judicial nominees. Confirm them or deny them — but give them all the courtesy of a vote,” Frist said.

17 Responses to “Confrontation on Filibusters: Once Again the Republicans’ Fault”

  1. “And when Democrats reject Republican offers to compromise, that shows an eagerness for confrontation on the part of . . . Republicans.”

    What was a compromise on the part of the republicans. What were they giving up? If someone can tell me, then I might believe that it was not the republicans fault.

    actus (0f2616)

  2. The Republicans offered to give up blocking nominees in committee using ‘blue slips’ or just plain not scheduling a vote. Those techniques really chapped the Democrats’ butts when they were used against Clinton’s nominees. The offer therefore is that ALL nominees, from any party, will be guaranteed a vote on the Senate floor. Basically, Frist is offering to agree to what the Democrats wanted six years aga.

    Tobias

    toby928 (99ba2b)

  3. Might believe what exactly “is not the Republicans fault”? The filibusters?

    Gerald A (bdfba2)

  4. “The Republicans offered to give up blocking nominees in committee using ‘blue slips’ or just plain not scheduling a vote. ”

    Forever or just now? Like, can we trust republicans of the future to keep this promise, or will they drop it when it gets in their way, like they’ve done on other traditions?

    actus (ebc508)

  5. Well, since its a new thing its really not a tradition yet 😉

    But seriously, what do you want? While these changes aren’t just promises but rather rules, any rule could be changed later. People change, new congresses come in, circumstances change, that’s just life. Unless its a constitutional ammendment (even that can be repealed) its just a rule, voted in and maybe voted out latter. And rules aren’t THAT easy to change as we see how hard it has been to change the filibuster rule.

    Tobias

    toby928 (99ba2b)

  6. “People change, new congresses come in, circumstances change, that’s just life.”

    Thats what I mean when its not much of a compromise.

    actus (ebc508)

  7. “Thats what I mean when its not much of a compromise.”

    Okay, then write your senators and tell them not to agree. That’s politics.

    I thought from this statement:

    “Forever or just now? Like, can we trust republicans of the future to keep this promise, or will they drop it when it gets in their way, like they’ve done on other traditions?”

    that you didn’t think it as binding or something like that.

    I think its as binding as anything short of a constitutional ammendment can be (but i’m not a constitutional lawyer nor do I play one on TV)

    Tob
    I think this thread is exhausted. bye

    toby928 (99ba2b)

  8. Toby–

    Actus is intentionally misreading your posts, of course. Otherwise, he’d have to agree that a Senate Rule, which takes 2/3rds vote to overturn, is pretty permanent.

    [“but they’re going to change this one by majority”, I can hear them cry]

    This is not a rule change, but a rule interpretation in a case where the intent of the rule is ambiguous. When someone takes a Rule (the Filibuster) that has been in effect since 1806 — and which has only once (1968) in 200 years been used to filibuster a judge* — and starts using it willy-nilly in situations that it’s not been used before, one might naturally ask: “WTF? Can they do this?”

    In Roberts Rules or any other similar setting, when one has issues in someone’s assertion about the Rules, one asks the Chair what the Rule means. The Chair makes a ruling and the ruling is appealable back to the body. If half agree with the Chair, his ruling stands. Otherwise not.

    But this only works when the Rule in question is silent on the specifics. The Rule change offered by Frist would have made the Rules on confirming judges much clearer and not subject to the Chair’s discretion, ruling or appeal.

    ———–
    * In late 1968 (AKA The Year from Hell), unpopular lame-duck President Johnson appointed an ethically-challenged crony to be Chief Justice, and the confirmation came up in September of an election year. The Senate Republicans filibustered the old-fashioned way. Abe Fortas not only withdrew his name, but resigned shortly thereafter as Associate Justice when accusations of bribery were revieled.

    Kevin Murphy (9982dd)

  9. Ah, thanks Kevin, that was the most concise explanation I’ve heard.

    I think THAT does exhaust this thread.

    You must play a lawyer on TV! 😉
    Tob

    toby928 (99ba2b)

  10. I will say one thing for LAT for 45 years they have blamed everything either on America or on Republicans. They are consistent. It is really newsworthy when the find a problem that was not caused by America or freedom or the Republicans.

    Rod Stanton (daa226)

  11. “Okay, then write your senators and tell them not to agree. That’s politics.”

    I live in DC. Write to yours and get me some.

    actus (5b2f21)

  12. “I live in DC. Write to yours and get me some.”

    That does put you in an awkward position. Political interest without political recourse. I’ve always been bothered by the lack of representation for DC residents. What do you think of the proposal to give DC (less the federal area itself) back to Maryland like was done with the Arlington part of DC?

    Tob

    toby928 (f59ae5)

  13. I’d prefer VA.

    actus (5b2f21)

  14. Actus

    If you and Patterico don’t mind my asking a couple off-topic questions, (I’m sure an entire thread could be started on this subject) tell me, Do you get any kind of benefit (no state tax or the like) to compensate for the lack of representation? Do you think that most DC residents are bother by the lack thereof?

    Just asking because I no longer know any DC residents.

    Tob

    toby928 (f59ae5)

  15. “Do you get any kind of benefit (no state tax or the like) to compensate for the lack of representation?”

    We pay taxes to the city government.

    I suppose some people count the federal transfers to the DC government as a benefit. But just think: the federal government owns the best land, and the federal government is exempt from property taxes.

    So in the end, those federal transfers can be seen as the normal property taxes which we would have if that had been business use property.

    The main benefit we get is one that the whole DC area gets: a bit of insulation from economic trends. That doesn’t just fall on DC though. Lots of government contractors are based outside of town in suburban MD and VA.

    Besides the lack of representation, we also have a lack of home rule. Some time ago DC voted on marijuana decriminalization. And some winger on some committee in congress made a line item change to our budget that those votes could not be counted. sucks.

    actus (5b2f21)

  16. Well said. Thanks for the answers.
    Tob

    toby928 (f59ae5)

  17. Times hates America and therefore hates Republicans. They have been smearing America for decades; same with Republicans. Look at how they smeared Ronnie 35 years ago. If they ever tell the truth about Republicans that will be news.

    Jo macDougal (01f1b7)


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