Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 21, 2009

INHOFE: 'I WILL FILIBUSTER DAVID HAMILTON'.... When President Obama nominated District Court Judge David Hamilton of Indiana for the 7th Circuit last month, he did so with the big picture in mind.

Hamilton, widely considered a judicial moderate, was chosen in part because his confirmation should be easy. A White House official told the NYT Obama went with Hamilton as his first nominee to send a signal that the process need not be contentious. "We would like to put the history of the confirmation wars behind us," the staffer said. Support for Hamilton from Indiana's conservative Republican senator, Richard Lugar, pointed to a process that should go smoothly.

Alas, even a deliberate White House attempt at relative comity isn't enough for far-right senators like James Inhofe (R) of Oklahoma. Inhofe, a leading candidate for the Most Embarrassing Member of the Senate award, announced on the Senate floor last night:

"I understand that Judge Hamilton's nomination is still pending before the Judiciary Committee, but I had to come to the floor to speak so that the American people, who are very concerned about this nomination, will know that I and my Republican colleagues on the Judiciary Committee are taking interest and are not just going to let this nomination sail through. In fact I will filibuster David Hamilton."

There are two key angles to this. The first is the rationale. Inhofe says a filibuster is necessary because Hamilton ruled in a 2005 case called Hinrichs v. Bosmah that the Indiana House of Representatives could begin its sessions with invocations, but not allow explicit state-sponsored sectarian prayers that "proselytize or advance any one faith." Hamilton, in other words, honored Supreme Court precedent from Marsh v. Chambers, and issued a ruling consistent with the establishment clause.

Inhofe, blasting the ruling yesterday on the Senate floor, got most of the key details of the case completely wrong -- way to do your homework, James -- and said he not only opposes the nomination, but also doesn't want to even let his colleagues vote up or down on Hamilton.

Which leads us to the second angle. Sen. Inhofe believed -- and argued publicly -- that a Senate filibuster against a judicial nominee is not only an illegitimate use of a senator's power, but is also literally unconstitutional. In 2003, Inhofe went so far as to say any senator who would dare filibuster a judicial nominee would necessarily be violating their oath to "support and defend the Constitution."

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that Inhofe doesn't remember his own record on the issue.

Also consider, Hamilton is a judicial moderate who enjoys bipartisan support and who was chosen precisely to avoid ugly fights with right-wing ideologues like Inhofe. That Hamilton is drawing a filibuster suggests Republican obstructionism will be as fierce as it is ridiculous for the rest of the Congress.

Steve Benen 12:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Comments

Good. Let them freak out on the first one. It'll make the subsequent filibusters look more and more unfair and/or ridiculous.

Posted by: zmulls on April 21, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

This idiot may go down in history as one of many Republicans who irreparably damaged the Constitution and our system of government.
There is supposed to be an air of civility and cooperation in the senate.
This is what happens when you allow the vice president of the United States to tell a member of the senate to go fuck himself, on the senate floor, without consequences and repercussions.

Posted by: Winknandanod on April 21, 2009 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree. I think Inhofe knows very well that he argued the opposite at one time. I just don't think he cares. He thinks his issues are the most important and whatever works to get his priorities done is o.k. with him.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope on April 21, 2009 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly. BHO keeps giving fringe maniacs like Inhofe just enough rope to hang himself. As these clowns keep marginalizing themselves further & further, Independent voter identification with the Republican party will continue to plummet.

Posted by: crater on April 21, 2009 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Inhofe surely doesn't grow memories that would conflict with his need to obstruct common and civil discourse - no, that would be too conceding to a reality based, consistent set of principled arguments. Again, blame the voters in the great state the Senator represents, whichever it may be! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 21, 2009 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Can some brave senator please take the floor and use the time to play Inhofe's past screed's on this issue? Over and over again...

Posted by: Madlad on April 21, 2009 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

What was this guy's stance on the 'nu-cue-lar option? Anyone know?

Posted by: Get Real on April 21, 2009 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, that gol' darned Congressional Record. They just write everything down. It's unconstitutional, or it should be.

Posted by: MattF on April 21, 2009 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that Inhofe doesn't remember his own record on the issue."

Why do you always give Republicans the benefit of the doubt?

Inhofe "remembers" his record full well.

He also knows that the Ditto-Head audience for whom his clown act is intended won't remember his record, nor would they care if they did remember it.

So-called "conservative politics" is just a form of entertainment for them. They are like fans of professional wrestling or Jerry Springer. They like to watch and listen to big, loudmouthed "conservative" blow-hards bellowing about "evil liberals".

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 21, 2009 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

This is great news - the more unreasonable the Repugs appear, the more freedom Obama and the Dems have to ignore them and ram through the appointments and measures that a majority of Americans voted for last November.

Posted by: mattt on April 21, 2009 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'm interested in knowing what's happening with the silent Republicans in Congress... surely they're not all spouting idiotic talk like this? Are they supportive of the daily confrontational bombast, or are they waiting for the post-defeat storms to subside so that they can get down to actual business?

Posted by: sleepy_commentator on April 21, 2009 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Also consider, Hamilton is a judicial moderate who enjoys bipartisan support...

If that is true, Inhofe's filibuster shouldn't be very successful.

Posted by: qwerty on April 21, 2009 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

It's a farce for Inhofe to even think he represents the "American people" as he represents a very small minority.

When will this ridiculous senate rule be dropped? It has been abused to the point of no longer serving any legitimate purpose and should definitely not be used to prevent nominations from getting passed.

What's the point of having elections when a minority can prevent the majority from legislating?

Inhofe is an obstructionist who places party first above country. He's been an embarrassment to the nation for far too long constantly seeking recognition so others will think he is important. Too ignorant to recognize his own hypocrisy he uses an ill informed press to continue embarrassing the nation. He needs a good dose of humility but would be too self absorbed to recognize it.

Posted by: bjobotts on April 21, 2009 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

If that is true, Inhofe's filibuster shouldn't be very successful.

Who can say these days with the GOP remnants frothing in high wingnut. They are currently in a waking nightmare, where every tree is hiding a commie liberal. I shudder to think what the poor dears experience when asleep.

Posted by: Mr. Stuck on April 21, 2009 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Go get 'em, Jon Stewart!

... because the mainstream "reporters" probably won't. Outside of the fightin' libruls of MSNBC, that is...

Posted by: Zandru on April 21, 2009 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

but I had to come to the floor to speak so that the American people, who are very concerned about this nomination...

whoah, speak for yourself, a**hole.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on April 21, 2009 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Inhofe represents a thin slice of the electorate. Empirical evidence means nothing in the face of "biblikkkal trooth" I used to live in the south, I'm familiar with this mindset.

The game the Republicans are playing is to hope that the turnout is so low in 2010 that the wingnut slice is enough to help them win some seats.

My fear is that Dems get complacent, as mid-terms often have turnout of 25% of eligable voters, that means a dedicated bunch of wingnuts might have some effect if at least a certain number of middle-of-the-roaders either don't vote or are dissillusioned with the economy by then and "give the other side a chance"

So, they're energizing the wingnuts, and hoping for the "default party switch" that seems to happen almost inevitably every so often in this country.

Dems seem to be planning on the wingnuts embarrassing the moderates, but that assumes that thoughful people make up the majority of the voters. I sure as hell hope so....

Posted by: vax on April 21, 2009 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Good. Let them freak out on the first one. It'll make the subsequent filibusters look more and more unfair and/or ridiculous."
zmulls at 12:40 PM

Almost like Team Obama knew and planned on Repuke conditioned responses, eh? Or as we used to say when I worked in commercial kitchens: "Psych!" Reap what you sow, Republist Party. And I hope Spector, et al. follow through on their filly-buster threat on Johnsen as well. Let 'er rip, boys and girls. You have nothing to lose but the tattered remnants of your permanent majority.

Posted by: Conrads Ghost on April 21, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Let's just do the nuclear option and be done with it. Have Biden rule Inhofe out of order and use Inhofe's own statements as justification.

Posted by: Joe Buck on April 21, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Let him filibuster to his heart's content. I assume that he will not be able to keep a nice solid front and a cloture vote will always be a possibility, but let the gas bag stand there and spout and put it all on YouTube, along with a clip of him calling filibusters unconstitutional. It is time that these people be shown for what they really are.

If he is really forced to stand around and spout, maybe the country will get lucky and he will stroke out.

Posted by: majun on April 21, 2009 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

And just consider that the most of people who live in Oklahoma voted for this guy .. this is the same Oklahoma in which NOT ONE COUNTY voted for Obama .. and after the fact their daily newspaper..something called THE OKLAHOMA DAILY TURD said how proud they were of that fact ..... this neo con piece of pig shit should be put in one of those tiny boxes with the stinging insects .. right along with his hero cheney ...

Posted by: stormskies on April 21, 2009 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Whenever a Republican invokes the phrase "American people," as in "American people, who are very concerned about this nomination" you know that whatever the supposed issue is, it is utter bunk. That phrase is only used as a crutch, instead of as a warrant.

Posted by: terraformer on April 21, 2009 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Sooner or later, with idiot representation like this, Republicans will be asking "What's the matter with Oklahoma?" Give 'em enough rope and let them hang themselves. I'll bet there are a number of semi-sane GOP senators that are more than a little pissed that Inhofe has used the f word on this nomination.

Posted by: danimal on April 21, 2009 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Oklahoma Territory" is starting to sound pretty good right about now.

Posted by: Danp on April 21, 2009 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Why oh why didn't we accept the nuclear option when it was being offered? The filibuster is the absolute worst feature of American government.

Posted by: Steve Simitzis on April 21, 2009 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

As I predicted when the first 'issues' were raised by the reich-wing about Hamilton, they did get around to this ruling to be upset about.

Basically, the ruling was that the Indiana House of Representatives had to have more than Baptist preachers giving their prayer.

Naturally, you of Jewish & Methodist & Catholic & other non-Christian faiths do not truly recognize the importance of this decision.

To overturn a practice of only Baptists providing the morning prayer in Indiana is right up there with the war on Christmas!

Posted by: SadOldVet on April 21, 2009 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Senator Inhofe:

This is to inform you do not in any way speak for us concerning the nomination of David Hamilton or basically anything else. Please stop spouting outrageous nonsense in our name.

Sincerely,

At least two thirds of the American people

Posted by: Stephen Stralka on April 21, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Hah. It's how they roll. It's all they know. A guy like Inhofe would be consigned to perfect irrelevance if he didn't do ridiculously stupid crap like this.

The GOP really is completely bankrupt. Morally and intellectually, they have exactly nothing.

Posted by: LL on April 21, 2009 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

James Inhofe is a dick.

Posted by: David Bailey on April 21, 2009 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Inhofe, a leading candidate for the Most Embarrassing Member of the Senate award...

For the longest time, I gave Inhofe the "benefit of the doubt" by thinking he was likely the most hyperpartisan member of the Senate, and now that the bugman no longer roams the halls of Congress, the most hyperpartisan member of either house.

Lately, however, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that Inhofe is stupid; unbelievably, irreparably stupid. In fact, he may be the dumbest man in America. Even in Okie, how this man keeps his job is mystifying.

Posted by: Stetson Kennedy on April 21, 2009 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Let him filibuster to his heart's content. I assume that he will not be able to keep a nice solid front and a cloture vote will always be a possibility, but let the gas bag stand there and spout and put it all on YouTube, along with a clip of him calling filibusters unconstitutional. It is time that these people be shown for what they really are . . . If he is really forced to stand around and spout, maybe the country will get lucky and he will stroke out.

Unfortunately, according to Harry Reid, the filibuster rules have been so degraded over the years that Inofe, if he gets any support from his group-think fellow Republicans, won't have to do more than check in once in a while. The filibuster can go on forever and the only people inconvienced are the senators who are, you know, trying to debate issues and vote and pass laws and stuff.

Posted by: Midland on April 21, 2009 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

What's to worry about?

Lieberman, McCain, Lindsey Graham and the other "Gang of 14" senators will vote to break any filibuster on judges...right???

Posted by: Robert Earle on April 21, 2009 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Hope Inhofe gets laryngitis.

Posted by: FrontandCenter on April 21, 2009 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

I look forward to President Obama sawing off the limb that Sen. Inhofe has crawled out onto.

Posted by: short fuse on April 21, 2009 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen: "Sen. Inhofe believed -- and argued publicly -- that a Senate filibuster against a judicial nominee is not only an illegitimate use of a senator's power, but is also literally unconstitutional. In 2003, Inhofe went so far as to say any senator who would dare filibuster a judicial nominee would necessarily be violating their oath to 'support and defend the Constitution.' I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that Inhofe doesn't remember his own record on the issue."

Well I'll go even further out on that same limb, and suggest that stark-raving mad loons like Sen. Inhofe probably doesn't give a rat's ass about whatever he said six minutes ago, let alone six years past. The guy's mendacity is pathological.

Posted by: Out & About in The Castro on April 21, 2009 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Danp: "'Oklahoma Territory' is starting to sound pretty good right about now."

"Indian Territory" sounds even better.

Posted by: Out & About in The Castro on April 21, 2009 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

First, see if Sen. Inhofe has enough support to prevent cloture of debate.

If he has support for filibuster then ask Sen. Inhofe who he would accept from the Dem list for that position.

If there's nobody on Obama's list he wouldn't filibuster, then let the position go vacant.

Bending to someone like Inhofe is unacceptable.

Posted by: MarkH on April 21, 2009 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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