count2.jpgI wrote a month ago that Senate Republicans, led by Arlen Specter, were threatening a work slowdown if Judiciary Committee chair Patrick Leahy didn’t pick up the hearing pace of President Bush’s judicial nominees.
According to the Committee for Justice blog, there was a “dramatic showdown” in yesterday’s JC hearing:

This morning’s dust-up over judges raged for more than 30 minutes and clearly got under Sen. Leahy’s skin. The Chairman lurched from being defensive to trying to change the subject, but Specter, the ranking Republican, insisted that all 8 of the GOP senators present be allowed to address the obstruction of Bush’s judicial nominees….

The dramatic confrontation bore immediate fruit, as Fifth Circuit nominee Catharina Haynes was voted out of committee. Leahy had been expected to comply with People for the American Way’s demand, in a March 31 letter, that the Committee “not proceed” with her nomination.
Perhaps the most ominous words came from Sen. Sam Brownback when he said “I think we all know where this is headed” – an obvious reference to the bitter and prolonged Senate showdown and shutdown over judges that only Sen. Leahy can head off. Earlier in the week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell warned that “Republicans will be forced to consider other options” if the obstruction of judicial nominees continues.

The JC confrontation was preceded the day before by a Wall Street Journal piece outlining the plan:

Mr. Specter says he has recommended that Republicans “go full steam ahead” until Democrats agree to hold confirmation votes. He has in mind a series of procedural stalls that would make it next to impossible for the Senate to get anything done. These could include refusing to accept the usual unanimous consent motion to have the previous day’s deliberations entered into the official record without a formal reading, a process that would take hours. So would reading the text of many bills, which can run to hundreds of pages….
As for Mr. Specter’s plan, there’s no guarantee it will work, as Democrats will denounce Republican “gridlock.” But it has the advantage of getting the issue of judicial confirmations back in front of the public in an election year. It also offers Senator John McCain an opportunity to show some leadership on an issue popular both with conservatives and independents. Some activists still haven’t forgiven him for his role in the bipartisan “Gang of 14” Senators who brokered a deal in 2005 that thwarted Republican efforts to ban judicial filibusters. As for Barack Obama, this would be a chance to show his “post-partisan” campaign riffs are more than rhetoric.

I think the plan will work. Democrats will certainly try to spin, but Republicans have good reason to push their point, as WSJ pointed out:

[O]f the 11 appeals-court nominees awaiting Senate action, seven would fill seats deemed to be judicial emergencies. One-third of the 15 seats on the Fourth Circuit… are vacant.

DC politicians know the American people are tired of this nonfunctioning partisan government. Americans also believe in fairness. The Democrats on both those counts are clearly in the wrong here, refusing to allow a Senate vote on President Bush’s judicial picks, as his constitutional responsibility
[HT: Curt Levey of Committee for Justice; graphic courtesy of WSJ]

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...