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Saturday, February 26, 2005


Vox Blogoli 2.2 Question : Grant, McClellan, Gingrich, and Senate Nukes

Hugh Hewitt poses this Vox Blogoli 2.2 question ( HughHewitt.com ) :Does the Senate GOP go McClellan or Grant if Harry Reid goes "Gingrich"? I feel it's worth answering, although not in quite the militaristic terms stated. The question is about how the Senate GOP will or should act on the process of confirming Judicial Nominations. Harry Reid has stated he will shut down the government , as Gingrich did in a stand-off with President Clinton ( a catastrophically bad ploy, as it turned out), if the Republicans attempt to force a simple majority floor vote for judicial nominations. The McClellan option is to talk and waffle; the Grant option is to force a rule change that prevents filibustering nominations. The current rule permits 41 senators to declare a filibuster and thus block any action; a rule change (termed by some the "Nuke" option) can be made by 50 senators to preclude or limit the use of a filibuster in the Advice and Consent process on nominees.

To me, the issue is simply whether the Senate is willing to face up to its constitutional responsibility to vote on the President's nominations. Our constitution provides many individual rights and a series of checks and balances to assure individual justice and freedom and to preclude the "Tryanny of the Majority"; it never intended to preclude decision by majority vote or to foster the "Tryanny of the Minority". Those few cases, where a super-majority vote was intended, were explicity stated. Based on founder intent and two hundred years of Senate history, there seems to be an especially clear case for a simple majority vote in the Advice and Consent process. I think the Senate should change its rule Back to a simple majority vote for nominees as was the case untill very recently and should do it as a matter of principle.

This has become a GOP - DEM issue because of a recent trend to constant campaigning and political obstruction by the party in the minority. There will always be power struggles and each party should press for the maximum advantage it can get. But that process of political warfare must stop short of overriding the constitution and ignoring the voters. Hence, the real issue is about the Senate doing its duty under the constitiution. Does it mean that President Bush is more likely to get his nominees approved, including some Supreme Court nominees? Yes, as it should. That issue was very much in front of the electorate last year and the voters decided it. Does it mean that, in future, a GOP minority may not be able to block a Dem President's nominees. Why, Yes, again as it should. How else can we voters influence our government?

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