Friday, April 22, 2005

Dick Cheney Lied. Well OK So No Big Surprise.

I heard Dick's speech today and he lied through his teeth.

Cheney said a minority of senators are using the filibuster to, in effect, establish a 60-vote requirement for judicial confirmation "in an astounding departure from historical precedent."

Well, that ain't true folks.

Senator Hatch’s Double Standards and Abuse of Power
The Blue Slip Policy
In the past, Hatch has been a fervent supporter of the Senate’s “blue slip” policy, which has allowed home-state senators who object to a judicial nominee to delay action in the Judiciary Committee by not returning a nominee’s “blue slip” to the committee. As American Prospect has noted, “it was Hatch, in 1995, who hardened the blue-slip policy to allow a single senator to block a nomination indefinitely.” Indeed, Sen. Hatch made his blue slip policy explicit in 1998 by stating on the blue slips themselves that “[n]o further proceedings on this nominee will be scheduled until both blue slips have been returned by the nominee’s home state senators.”

Now, however, Hatch has apparently declared a new policy saying that even though a senator’s decision not to return a blue slip would be given great weight, it would not be allowed to prevent Hatch from moving nominees he wants to move. “In other words,” says Hatch, “we can go ahead with certain nominees where you might have a withheld blue slip.” Sen. Barbara Boxer in particular has objected to proceeding on controversial nominee Carolyn Kuhl, regarding whom Boxer has not returned her blue slip, but indications from Hatch are that he will proceed on the nomination, in blatant contradiction of his own policy.

The Multiple-Nominee Hearing

Sen. Hatch held a single confirmation hearing featuring three controversial appeals court nominees simultaneously – Jeffrey Sutton, Deborah Cook, and John Roberts – on January 29. Scheduling multiple controversial appeals court nominees on a single day violated a longstanding bipartisan agreement. In the mid-1980s, Senators Strom Thurmond, Joseph Biden, Bob Dole, and Robert Byrd agreed in writing that there would be no more than one controversial nominee scheduled at any one time, an agreement that had been followed under both Republican and Democratic control until Hatch’s packed January 29th hearing.

Hatch’s move virtually assured that it would be impossible for senators to prepare thoroughly and for all three nominees to receive sufficient scrutiny. In fact, senators focused their questions on Sutton, meaning that nominees Roberts and Cook were asked very few questions. To date, Hatch has refused requests for additional hearings on these nominees, and as previously noted, violated a standing Judiciary Committee rule in order to push Roberts and Cook out of Committee in spite of the fact that they had not yet been subjected to meaningful scrutiny.

In contrast, Hatch is holding today an additional hearing for Priscilla Owen and is scheduling an additional hearing for Charles Pickering, two nominees who were rejected by the Judiciary Committee last year after in-depth hearings (two in Pickering’s case) at which senators from both parties had ample opportunity to examine their records.

The Filibuster as a Check on Abuse and an Incentive for Bipartisanship

Sen. Hatch has made it clear that his goal of speeding up the confirmation conveyor belt is overriding his professed commitment to fairness and the Judiciary Committee’s own written policies and longstanding traditions. Coupled with the Bush administration’s defiant refusal to engage in genuine bipartisan consultation and compromise on judicial nominations, Hatch’s actions underscore the fact that the filibuster is the only remaining tool at Democratic senators’ disposal to prevent the administration from packing the appellate courts with right-wing ideologues and the only way to give the administration any incentive to come to the bargaining table in good faith.

Hatch and other Republican leaders are now suggesting that it is unconstitutional to filibuster judicial nominees. Their arguments are without merit and are blatantly opportunistic given Republicans’ use and defense of the filibuster in the past. Senator Richard Lugar explained in 1993 that it is “a function of our Constitution that minorities are protected in many, many ways,” and that this is part of the rationale for the continued existence of the filibuster. In defending a filibuster on a judicial nomination in 1994, Hatch himself explained that the filibuster is “one of the few tools the minority has to protect itself and those the minority represents.”
Republicans used the filibuster to prevent the confirmation of Abe Fortas as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1968 and the confirmation of Henry Foster as Surgeon General in 1995. Cloture petitions were necessary to obtain votes on the nominations of both Richard Paez and Marsha Berzon to the Ninth Circuit in 2000; Paez was delayed for over four years. Indeed, current Senate Majority Leader Frist was among those voting against cloture on the Paez nomination. Since 1980, cloture motions have been filed on 14 lower court nominations, according to the Congressional Research Service. All of this, some Republicans now claim, was unconstitutional.


Blogger PoliShifter said...

Radical Neo Conservative Hypocrisy Hard At Work Once Again!

Great Work Kenny!

8:32 PM  

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