Patterico's Pontifications


Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Criticizes Trump’s Comments on Judges

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:00 pm

I like this guy more and more all the time.

Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, on Wednesday called the president’s tweets attacking federal judges “disheartening” and “demoralizing.”

A spokesman for Gorsuch confirmed to CNN that he expressed concern about Trump’s remarks during a meeting with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), after Blumenthal first told reporters about the nominee’s reaction.

Trump, you have no doubt heard, first tweeted about the District Court judge:



And now has taken his tweet-whinges to the next level:

You realize they’re going to make Gorsuch say this in front of the TV cameras, right? That’s when President Tweet may go nuts. Laura Ingraham is already upset:

Me, I think it bodes awesome.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

Senator Jeff Sessions Confirmed As Attorney General

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:51 pm

[guest post by Dana]

In spite of the strenuous efforts of Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Jeff Sessions has been confirmed as Attorney General by a vote of 52-47. Or, as The New York Times pointedly reported:

Senator Jeff Sessions was confirmed on Wednesday as President Trump’s attorney general, capping a bitter and racially charged nomination battle that crested with the procedural silencing of a leading Democrat, Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Mr. Sessions, an Alabama Republican, survived a near-party-line vote, 52 to 47, in the latest sign of the extreme partisanship at play as Mr. Trump strains to install his cabinet. No Republicans broke ranks in their support of a colleague who will become the nation’s top law enforcement official after two decades in the Senate.
But the confirmation process — ferocious even by the standards of moldering decorum that have defined the body’s recent years — laid bare the Senate’s deep divisions at the outset of the Trump presidency. At the same time, the treatment of Ms. Warren, who was forced to stop speaking late Tuesday after criticizing Mr. Sessions from the Senate floor, rekindled the gender-infused politics that animated the presidential election and the women’s march protesting Mr. Trump the day after his inauguration last month.

Sessions received unanimous support from the Senate Republicans, as well as some other notable endorsements:

Sessions had numerous endorsements from law enforcement groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest police union in the country, and the AFL-CIO’s International Union of Police Associations. Former attorneys general, like former Deputy Attorney General under President George W. Bush Larry Thompson, also offered their support of the nomination.

Sessions grabbed a huge endorsement Sen. Quinton Ross, the Democratic leader of the Alabama Senate and one of the highest-ranking black lawmakers in the state. Sessions racked up other critical endorsements, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate.

Sessions made a gracious statement tonight after the vote:

“It was a special night,” Sessions told reporters on Capitol Hill after his confirmation. “I appreciate the friendship from my colleagues — even those who, many of them who didn’t feel able to vote for me. They were cordial, and so we continue to have good relations and will continue to do the best I can.”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back)


A Way to Derail the Filibuster Without the Nuclear Option?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:30 am

Sean Davis at The Federalist, an expert on Senate parliamentary procedure, has a proposal for getting judicial candidates approved with 51 votes without invoking the nuclear option against the filibuster. It’s called the “two-speech rule”:

But what if there were a way to guarantee both an up-or-down vote on a Supreme Court nominee and debate about the nomination? What if there were a way to preserve debate while providing for a final vote? Thankfully, there is a way to accomplish that and, unlike the nuclear option, it doesn’t require any major trickery or parliamentary shenanigans. Instead, all it requires is for the Senate to abide by its own rules regarding debate. This option limits indefinite obstruction while preserving vital debate and protecting the unique nature of the Senate. Not only that, this particular strategy was even used in 1964 by Civil Rights Act proponents who were desperately trying to break a determined filibuster of that landmark legislation.

Forget about the nuclear option and embrace the two-speech rule option.

Davis explains that Senate rules do not actually require 60 votes to shut down debate. He says McConnell can force an eventual vote by enforcing an already-existing rule — the two-speech rule — which says (in Davis’s words) that “once each senator has spoken twice on a matter, debate on that matter is concluded no matter what.” There are two speeches allowed per “legislative day” — but that is a term of art, and the GOP could extend the “legislative day” to encompass the entire debate over a nominee. According to Davis, this rule “means that a final up-or-down vote is guaranteed.” It just may take some time.

Davis explains that the device may be considered more useful for executive nominees than for legislation, where each amendment could provide a new question. However, for important enough legislation, as to which the Senate considers the legislation worth the debate time, the rule could work. Davis says this rule was used to help pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It took 81 days, but it passed.

To me, the main concern is that the easier a filibuster is to circumnavigate, the less useful it is as a mechanism for a minority to stop bad policy. We already know from Harry Reid’s example that the filibuster is something less than a full veto by the minority, as long as the Majority Leader is willing to shut it down. Davis’s article shows that there is a way to do that without eliminating extended debate entirely. And extended debate will no doubt be useful to the GOP again one day.

There is no way that the GOP can allow the Democrats to block a qualified nominee like Neil Gorsuch. But if Democrats are foolish enough to filibuster, Davis’s proposal may provide a way to get Gorsuch confirmed without completely nuking the filibuster. At a minimum, it deserves more discussion.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

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