Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 12, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

REVISING AND EXTENDING....There are reasonable arguments to be made both for and against the Senate's filibuster rule, but Orrin Hatch's lengthy dissertation on the subject in NRO today is jaw-droppingly self-serving. Here's his recollection of how he behaved back when Bill Clinton was president:

Focusing on President Clinton's judicial nominations in 1999, I described what has been the Senate's historical standard for judicial nominations: "Let's make our case if we have disagreement, and then vote."

....Along with then-Majority Leader Trent Lott, I repeatedly warned that filibustering Clinton judicial nominees would be a "travesty" and helped make sure that every Clinton judicial nomination reaching the full Senate received a final confirmation decision.

That's mighty righteous of him, isn't it? Why, he insisted on a vote for "every Clinton judicial nomination reaching the full Senate."

Of course, quite a few of them didn't reach the full Senate despite the fact that they had majority support. And why was that? Because they were bottled up in the Judiciary Committee, Orrin G. Hatch, chairman. What's more, many of them were bottled up via arcane Senate rules that Hatch has systematically dismantled now that it's a Republican president who's nominating judges.

So here's a deal for the Republican leadership: allow Democrats to use all the same rules that Republicans have made such copious use of over the past few decades in order to stall judicial nominations and prevent them from coming before the full Senate for an up or down vote. That means rules like anonymous holds, blue slips, and minority consent to report out nominees.

Those rules have all but disappeared since George Bush was elected. Give them back and maybe the filibusters will stop. Deal?

Kevin Drum 7:28 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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