WASHINGTON (AP) — In a dramatic reach across party lines, Senate centrists agreed Monday night on a compromise that clears the way for confirmation of many of President Bush’s stalled judicial nominees, leaves others in limbo and preserves venerable filibuster rules. (RVJ)
14 Sentors, 7 from each side signed an agreement that pledged lawmakers to “mutual trust and confidence.”
Full Post complete. Includes cartoon.
Democrats have now agreed to allow final confirmation votes for Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor. But “here is “no commitment to vote for or against” the filibuster against two other conservatives named to the appeals court, Henry Saad and William Myers.”
Dr. James C. Dobson, head of the Focus on the Family, said the agreement “represents a complete bailout and a betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats.”
“The agreement said future nominees to the appeals court and Supreme Court should “only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances,” with each Democrat senator holding the discretion to decide when those conditions had been met.
“In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement,” Republicans said they would oppose any attempt to make changes in the application of filibuster rules.”
Bill Frist had nothing to do with this.
“We have sent President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the radical right of the Republican party an undeniable message … the abuse of power will not be tolerated,” said the Democrats.
The White House said the agreement was a positive development.”
I wonder who won this battle?
“Nominally, the issue at hand was Bush’s selection of Owen, a member of the Texas Supreme Court, to a seat on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
“In fact, as the rhetoric suggested, the stakes were far broader, with Republicans maneuvering to strip Democrats of their right to filibuster and thus block current and future nominees to the appeals court and Supreme Court.
There currently is no vacancy on the high court, although one or more is widely expected in Bush’s term. Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s coincidental presence in the Capitol during the day was a reminder of that. At age 80 and battling thyroid cancer, he entered the building in a wheelchair on his way to a medical office.”
Come on. What about the Supreme Court justices!
As Hugh Hewitt said:
“It is impossible to say whether this is a “terrible” deal, a “bad” deal, or a very, very marginally “ok” deal, but it surely is not a good deal. Not one dime more for the NRSC from me unless and until the Supreme Court nominee gets confirmed, and no other filibusters develop.”
“Many of these nominees have waited for quite some time to have an up-or-down vote and now they are going to get one. That’s progress,” said White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. “We will continue working to push for up or down votes for all the nominees.”
I sure hope so.
But think about this statement from the Review Journal:
“The agreement said future nominees to the appeals court and Supreme Court should “only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances,” with each Democrat senator holding the discretion to decide when those conditions had been met.”
In other words, when they are desperate they’ll use the filibuster? Are you kidding me, every situation might be called desperate, right? Or perhaps things will be OK in that regard. Unless the GOP doesn’t respond if the Democrats “abuse their power,” we’re OK right? I don’t know about that. It all depends on the Democrats on that one. And Robert Byrd is the leader.
As The Corner said “It ensures the confirmation of 3 of the 10 original circuit court nominees targeted for filibusters, no more, no less. ”
Also, “A president has always left his imprint on the federal bench — whether it be conservative or liberal. This deal treats this president’s nominees like no other president in history.”
Hmm. Do I remember some debates about past traditions?
What kind of move is this? They backed down…spineless? We want an up-or-down vote so the Supreme Court Justices can get confirmed.
It seems that we can see who has lost this battle, thanks to spineless Senators who seem to fall to the Democrats every time.
And again…”only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances…” What does that mean?
These guys have made a bad decision.
Some results of this “agreement” (or surrender?):
“1. If Senator Frist can’t talk Ohio’s Mike DeWine and and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham off the ledge, voters will wonder how he can talk Great Britain and Italy into future coaltions of the willing. Everyone Republican who signed the document did so knowing they were betraying Frist. To recover, the Majority Leader will have to move quickly to get the blocked nominations on to the flooor and then the bench, and he will have to be the leader from day one on a Supreme Court nomination fight that is quickly and decisively won.
2. DeWine has never been other than a good senator and a solid Republican vote. His attempt last night to argue that this was a good deal may be sincere, but it doesn’t say much for his grasp of politics on the big stage. I cannot believe this helped him in his re-election bid in ’06.
3. Lindsey Graham’s short speech about “we are at war, and kids are dying,” was a low, low point for him. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are fighting and sometimes dying for freedom and human dignity, not for Senate “comity” and Robert Byrd’s fuzzy grasp of history. The injustice done especially to William Meyer and Henry Saad is manifestly not what they are fighting for, and covering low political calculation and backroom deal-making–sometimes necessary but never noble– in rhetoric about wartime is repulsive. Graham admitted that his folks at home will be angry, so he acted with full awareness that he was abandoning the people who put him into office.”
Oh, and the wonderful thing about it all is that the GOP has shot their chances in 2008. It’s dead and over if they don’t get their act together.
Here’s what the document said:
“MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING ON JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS We respect the diligent, conscientious efforts, to date, rendered to the Senate by Majority Leader Frist and Democratic Leader Reid. This memorandum confirms an understanding among the signatories, based upon mutual trust and confidence, related to pending and future judicial nominations in the 109th Congress.
This memorandum is in two parts. Part I relates to the currently pending judicial nominees; Part II relates to subsequent individual nominations to be made by the President and to be acted upon by the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.
We have agreed to the following:
Part I: Commitments on Pending Judicial Nominations
A. Votes for Certain Nominees. We will vote to invoke cloture on the following judicial nominees: Janice Rogers Brown (D.C. Circuit), William Pryor (11th Circuit), and Priscilla Owen (5th Circuit).
B. Status of Other Nominees. Signatories make no commitment to vote for or against cloture on the following judicial nominees: William Myers (9th Circuit) and Henry Saad (6th Circuit).
Part II: Commitments for Future Nominations
A. Future Nominations. Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the Advice and Consent Clause of the United States Constitution in good faith. Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.
B. Rules Changes. In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment to or interpretation of the Rules of the Senate that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or Rule XXII.
We believe that, under Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, the word “Advice” speaks to consultation between the Senate and the President with regard to the use of the President’s power to make nominations. We encourage the Executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration.
Such a return to the early practices of our government may well serve to reduce the rancor that unfortunately accompanies the advice and consent process in the Senate.
We firmly believe this agreement is consistent with the traditions of the United States Senate that we as Senators seek to uphold.”
What a colossal mess.