Roberts' Rules of Order

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NY Post columnist (and former Reason intern) Ryan Sager has a sharp column on GOP b.s.'ing about John Roberts.

Judge Roberts, it seems, has no opinions. He's just a resume with a goofy grin.

And many in the Republican Party would like to keep it that way. They've spent years arguing–regarding Bush's lower-court nominations– that the Senate's confirmation process should be based almost solely on a nominee's credentials, not on such nasty business as "ideology" or "litmus tests."…

Take the ludicrous kabuki routine going on now surrounding the abortion question. Conservative activists are doing their best to downplay a brief Roberts co-authored on behalf of the first Bush administration, where he calls for the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Yet, at the same time, they've gotten the word out to the Republican base that Roberts is–wink, wink–"one of us."

Whole thing here.

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  1. Well, there appears to be a Clintonian fight over whether Roberts was a member of the Federalist Society. Now, the Federalist Society states that its made up of libertarians and conservatives, but my experience was that they are largerly made up of the latter (especially the religious conservative variety). Maybe others here have had similar or different experiences.

  2. Why do I have this sinking feeling that the confirmation battle will degenerate into a fight over what the meaning of “member” is?

    And if we must have a fight over the word “member”, could we bring Bill Clinton out of retirement? 😉

  3. Well, Robert’s confused status as a (non-)member of the Federalist Society is easily explainable. You can sign up to receive free newsletters from them without ever paying membership dues. (Which I have done myself.) Thus, I can easily believe he signed up for something like that at a conference and forgot about it.

  4. SR, what you are saying is perfectly reasonable and sensible.

    Which is why it will have zero impact if this turns into a food fight over the meaning of the word “member.”

  5. Interesting also that the conservatives are calling him a “mainstream” judge while the “mainstream” (in poll after bloody poll) clearly wants the conservatives to keep their mitts OFF of Roe V Wade.

    That was the real charm of picking Roberts in the first place. A judicial example of a blank slate on to which conservatives could paint whatever they wanted depending on what works for them at that moment.

    “Ridiculous kabuki”, btw, is a great line. Just illustrates how the conservatives Christians are every bit as conniving and evil as their counterparts to the left.

  6. Hakluyt

    My totally unscientific impression of the Federalist society I used to deal with in law school is that its members are reluctant libertarians. That is, they are personally very conservative, but that they have to accept libertarianist ideals. An example which stands out is one member’s stance on the War on Drugs. While he believed that the moral position was that marijuana should be illegal, he reluctantly acknowledged that we’d be better off if it weren’t.

    As I said, this is just my impression, but I think that most FS members would view reason mag’s motto like this: “well, if we have to have the free minds to get the free markets, I guess that will do; but I’m not going to like it.”

  7. SR, a regional Federalist Society group had him listed as a member of their Steering Committee.

    This seems like a very silly thing to lie about.

  8. What’s ridiculous is that involvement in the Federalist Society would be considered a disqualifying factor for a judicial nominee. That sort of absurd complaint is why the “kabuki” theather exists to obscure the opinions of any nominee.

  9. “What’s ridiculous is that involvement in the Federalist Society would be considered a disqualifying factor for a judicial nominee.”

    That’s just it – it’s not. Pretty much every Republican lawyer in Washington is, or was, in the Federalist Society, no?

    Bush nominated a conservative Republican. Well, no shit. Why the hide and seek with information everyone already knows?

  10. “SR, a regional Federalist Society group had him listed as a member of their Steering Committee.”

    Sorry, I didn’t know the extent of his reported involvement. The news accounts I heard just referred to him being a “member”.

  11. Right or wrong, the perception on the right is that confirmation that Roberts is not a liberal may lead to filibuster. The fear is that Dems will use the history of 5-4 decisions to argue that one more conservative is a crisis.

    Funny that the right would think such things, since Schumer has said as much himself.

  12. OK, if you’re interpretting “refusing to answer questions about his judicial philosophy” or “being an extremist” as “not being a liberal,” that makes sense.

    Especially when the marching orders are to tar any objection on any grounds as an attempt to obstruct the appointment of any non-liberals.

  13. If the legislature would just grow up already and deal with issues the way they were meant to be dealt with – by legislation instead of constitutional tea-leaf reading – we could avoid this kind of silly confirmation food fight.

    Yeah, I know, quit dreaming fletcher….

  14. Durring law school I went to a lot of the Federalist Society meetings but never actually joined. They had interesting guests and free pizza. I think that nearly all of the events they put on are open to anyone so it is easy to imagine that Roberts hung out with, and participated in many Federalist Society functions without actually being a dues paying member. That isn’t being Clintonian. If you don’t pay the dues you can’t very well claim to be a member.

  15. joe

    If being a member of the Federalist Society is not a big deal, why is so much effort to show that Roberts is a member being expended by the press and the left? Sorry, from what I have seen over the past few years, that organization has been treated as philosophical poison.

  16. MJ,

    Because he said he wasn’t a member – made a point of saying he wasn’t a member – when there are records showing he was.

  17. “OK, if you’re interpretting “refusing to answer questions about his judicial philosophy” or “being an extremist” as “not being a liberal,” that makes sense.”

    This is correct, joe. “Being an exrtremist” means exactly that you disagree with liberal doctrine on any issue of importance. Rhenquist is called an extremist, for Chrissakes. You can be a conservative on any issue that no one cares about, and you are fine. Otherwise, you get tarred.

  18. Have you considered the possibility, Jason, that you are actually an extremist, and that you consequently lump everying from center-right to far left under the category “liberal?”

  19. joe, have you considered that perhaps that you are an extreme statist? If Roberts denies membership, so what? We can all say “Yeah, he’s a member” and get on with it. It’s not like he’s denying Klanhood (cue Robert Byrd), yet joe and the American Left seem to want to pursue it like he is.

  20. Good question, Randian.

    Tell me, what % of the vote did a candidate with an ideology similar to yours get in the last presidential election? The one before that? How about the one before that?

    “If Roberts denies membership, so what?” So what is, he seems to by lying about something, something rather trivial. Why would he do that?

  21. Fine, fine, joe, the libertarian viewpoint is not popular. We get it. Anyway, perhaps he realized how bad everyone, say, like you, who opposes his nomination would make him look for something so trivial. Hmmm, a political candidate trying to avoid a smear. Never heard of that one before.

    Are we going to make a big deal about his membership in something else that really doesn’t matter, like, if he was a Rotarian, for instance?

  22. Ayn, if he makes numerous public statements denying membership in the Rotarians, and then his name shows up as a Grant Spinner of the Rotarians, I’d find that strange, too.

  23. JMoore,

    Maybe you are right. All I know is that I found their incessant God-talk rather nauseating.

  24. Strange, yes. Significant…I am not so sure. Anyway, I am sure that somewhere I am a “member” of something without being aware of it. Even if we was Great Grand whatever of the Federalist Society, perhaps he no longer associates himself with said society, even though they still have him listed as a member. I no longer consider myself associated with a few groups that, in my rasher college days, I gladly worked for. Big deal.

  25. And so the food fight starts. Say what you will about his philosophy or your philosophy or his critics’ philosophy or the Federalist Society’s philosophy. That’s no longer what matters.

    What matters is that he was asked a question and he gave an answer that is now regarded as evasive. What does he have to hide? Why is he obscuring this? Why did he “lie”? Did he lie? What constitutes membership?

    As they always say, it’s the cover-up that matters. Or the alleged cover-up. Or the cover-up of something that might be called a cover-up.

    All he needs now is a nanny with visa problems and we’ll have a full-blown circus on our hands.

    I can just see the confirmation hearings now:

    “Judge Roberts, are you now or have you ever been a member of the Federalist society?”

    Personally, I think this whole thing is ridiculous, given how many conservative lawyers (of various stripes) have been members of the Federalist Society. But he denied membership, and then it turns out that there was something that could be construed as membership. And so we all know what happens next.

    If he wants to get out of this he needs to go in front of a camera ASAP and say the following:

    “Look, I never paid membership dues. I was involved in some of their activities but I never paid membership dues so as far as I knew I wasn’t really a member, just a guy participating here and there. I didn’t realize they’d put my name in a membership roster. I apologize for any confusion this has caused.”

    It’s ridiculous, but that’s how it goes.

  26. The WP article joe links to makes it sound as if being on the steering committe was largely honorary and didn’t require membership.

    It doesn’t meet, it doesn’t do a whole lot. The only thing we expect of them is to make sure people in the firm know about us.

    Also:

    Membership in the sense of paying dues was not required as a condition of inclusion in a listing of the society’s leadership…

    So joe, what has he been proven to be lying about? He didn’t deny knowing the society existed, only that he was an actual member, and as of now there is no proof that he was.

  27. thoreau,

    Well, you are right it would have been smarter for him to just say: “I was never a dues paying member, but I did join the Federalist Society in X, Y, and Z.”

  28. thoreau,

    That’s been the nature of U.S. politics since about 1796. 🙂

  29. Ya know, I would have thought that, if we were going to have a food fight over the meaning of the word “member”, it would have had something to do with President Clinton.

  30. “Look, I never paid membership dues. I was involved in some of their activities but I never paid membership dues so as far as I knew I wasn’t really a member, just a guy participating here and there. I didn’t realize they’d put my name in a membership roster. I apologize for any confusion this has caused.”

    It’s ridiculous, but that’s how it goes.

    This suggestion doesn’t sound ridiculous at all. If that is what happened, then that is what Roberts should do and say now. It is only all of the other possible Roberts responses that would be ridiculous.

  31. The word “Federalist” was co-opted by the decidedly “Nationalist” Hamilton. Those that try to defend Federalism using Hamilton’s Federalist Papers are firing a weapon that will backfire in their own face. I have repeatedly seen members of the Federalist Society do just that. If their cause is to promote federalism, where authority and power comes from the states, they would be better served to quote from the so-called Anti-federalists who wrote articles against ratifying the constitution. There is an excellent collection of these writings edited by Morton Borden called “The Anti-Federalist Papers.” The articles are arranged to correspond the order of topics present in the Federalist Papers. I would also recommend Jackson T. Main’s “The Anti-Federalist; Critics of the Constitution, 1781-1788”.

    Being able to name your opponents is half of any political battle. By claiming the federalist name for himself and tagging his opponents as anti-federalists, Hamilton obscured the truth and has forever changed our understanding of what a constitutes federal forms of governance.

  32. NoStar,

    Well, not all the Federalist Papers were written by Hamilton; remember that Madison and Jay were also involved. And the Federalists scored a coup by appropriating the name “Federalist” before the anti-Federalists did.

  33. NoStar,

    Interestingly enough during the Convention Madison stated that he didn’t care if all the states were abolished. 🙂

  34. “Personally, I think this whole thing is ridiculous, given how many conservative lawyers (of various stripes) have been members of the Federalist Society.”

    Exactly, thoreau. Membership in the Federalist Society tells me that you’re a conservative lawyer. Excuse me, is there anyone out there who didn’t realize that George W. Bush’s nominee to the Supreme Court would be a conservative lawyer? Bush has spent six years telling us he was going to nominate a righty to the Supreme Court – why all of a sudden this determination to pretend the guy’s not a righty?

    Brett, are you actually going to pretend that he was listed among the Society’s leadership without his knowledge? C’mon.

  35. Hakluyt,
    I ruled out Hamilton as being for a federal form of government, and you ruled out Madison.

    Jay’s contribution was miniscule.

  36. joe-

    So what’s your point? He should have clarified a few things better, but at the end of the day what will we learn that we don’t already know? This seems like a non-issue to me, and I’m saddened by the fact that the perception of a cover-up will probably make this non-issue into an issue.

  37. I am going to make the rare (for me) move of disagreeing with Joe and say that the Federalist Society’s bookkeeping as to its membership rolls is pretty loose, and I can readily imagine that Roberts was listed by mistake, or that Roberts did something rather trivial that caused the Federalists to count him among their number, like dropping by a meet-and-greet cocktail party. (This is not to indict the Federalists; their counterpart on the left — the ACS — is pretty much the same.)

  38. My point?

    A. He’s a righty.

    B. He (or more likely, the White House) covered up his membership in the Federalist Society.

    A+B=Roberts and the White House are trying to cover up the fact that he’s a righty, and are willing to fudge the truth to do so.

  39. OK, joe, so people are being really stupid in thinking they can deny his affiliations.

    Should that have any bearing on the decisions that need to be made concerning Roberts?

  40. “Have you considered the possibility, Jason, that you are actually an extremist, and that you consequently lump everying from center-right to far left under the category “liberal?””

    I have actually considered this, but I don’t think it is the case. I am a very moderate libertarian, whose views on civil rights and the war on drugs would certainly put me somewhere between most elected Democrats and most elected Republicans.

    It is the consistent rhetoric of the left to claim the center on every issue and then to be horrified at how extreme anyone with differing views might be. Gore ran a scare campaign with the tactic, then your boy Kerry did the same thing later. Every time Chuck Schumer opens his mouth, that is the rhetoric that comes out.

    Let me try this another way. Is it your opinion that anyone who deviates from recent decisions on commerce is an extremist? Is any view from any candidate of any caliber or qualifications that would put limits on the federal government’s ability to regulate all human activity through Commerce by definition extreme? Would a 5-4 in favor of IJ have been extreme? Of course not, in all cases. Let us cut the BS. This is about getting the court that will give you the decisions you want, no different from what Bush is doing. The Dems are looking for a target to tar, and the Repubs are trying not to present a target.

    Say what you will, but the Repubs did not do this during the Clinton nominations, who have been consistently liberal in a way that O’Conner never was consistently conservative.

  41. Brett, are you actually going to pretend that he was listed among the Society’s leadership without his knowledge? C’mon.

    Well, that’s not really the point you were first making. You said he lied, and there is no proof of a lie. Were this about a Ginsburg-type and some purported connection with moveon.org that had not yet been proven, you’d be saying the same damn thing.

    While I certainly wouldn’t rule out him purposefully trying to distance from this organization (sad enough that he or people in the administration feel this is necessary), from what I’ve read I also find it plausible that he would agree to some sort of liaison role (alluded to in the WP article) w/o realizing he’d been listed as a society leader. Which still says nothing about membership.

    The burden of proof shouldn’t change based on the letter after your name, or in thise case, those doing the nominating.

  42. Bush needs to grow a pair and tell Arlyn Spector and the other RINOs and Democrats in the Senate go screw themselves. As a conservative, I am very worried that Roberts doesn’t have any beliefs and will get on the court and turn into another David Suiter. The fact is a large number of Bush’s supporters voted for him because they wanted conservatives on the Surpreme Court. Elections should matter. Bush owes it to the millions of people who voted for him to nominate someone unapologetically conservative. The Democrats could never get away with filabustering a Supreme Court nominee. If they tried it, it would no longer be about the nominiee but the unfairness of not giving him an up or down vote. If the Republican RINOs like Spector and McCain want to stick to the Republican base and vote down a conservative, then the Republican base will at least know who to blame.

  43. “You said he lied, and there is no proof of a lie.”

    OK, fine. It might not be a “lie.” We might, instead, be in Clintonian “definition of is” territory. Happy?

    As for “purporeted relationships” – you’re on the bus, or your off the bus.

    Jason, No, no, and maybe. On the IJ case, it would depend on the reasoning. A 5-4 marjority based on O’Connor’s dissent would not be extreme at all. A 5-4 decision based on Thomas’s dogmatic, blissfully ignorant originalism would be. But then, given that genuine exremists like Bork don’t often make it onto the court, such an outcome is extremely unlikely.

  44. I would love nothing more that to see Roberts get filibustered. There would be an ensuing fight of nuclear proportions and the Senate GOP would rewrite the cloture rules. The Dems would retaliate by shutting down unanimous consent, and we’d basically have no Congress for perhaps a year or two.

    That would be beautiful.

  45. Elections should matter.

    We have an elected President, as well as 100 elected Senators. (Well, I don’t know, maybe there’s one or two who were appointed to fill a vacancy until the next election, but that would still leave 98 or 99 who won elections.) All of those elections should matter. The Constitution says that the Senate has a say in the matter as well, and if Senators choose to oppose a nominee because they don’t think the person should sit on the bench, well, that’s their prerogative.

    Defend a nominee on his merits, not simply on the grounds that the President won an election and should get his way.

  46. Oh, wait, I misread John. He’s criticizing a nominee’s stances, and arguing that this unsuitable nominee is only being nominated because the President is trying to get support in the Senate.

    Um, isn’t that the point of “advice and consent”?

  47. “If they tried it, it would no longer be about the nominiee but the unfairness of not giving him an up or down vote.”

    Because the American public is so interested in procedural stories about Congress.

    If the Democrats filibustered Roberts, the debate that would occur across American would be about John Roberts, and whether he should be on the Supreme Court.

    That said, I agree with John that Bush should grow a pair, tell his detractors to go screw themselves, and demand that his nominee be approved. Also, please don’t throw me in the briar patch.

  48. Thoreau,

    I think that the country has a right to know what the guy thinks and Bush owes it to the people who voted for him to nominate an unapologetic conservative. Further, any nominee, conservative or not deserves and up or down vote in the Senate. The constitution says “advice and consent of the Senate” not supermajority of the Senate. You are right, the Senate election matters too and it ought to matter that the Republicans control the Senate. You should not have to win 60 seats to get anything meaningful out of the Senate. If the guy truely were conservative, the Democrats might be able to pick off enough RINOs to defeat him in a straight up vote. If that is the case, so be it, that is the way the system is supposed to work and voters in the States of the Senators who voted against the nominee can take it up with them in the next election for better or worse.

  49. Joe,

    Well, I ahve been hearing for about six years now from liberals who all swear that they want nothing better than a fight with George Bush. Two presidential elections and firm control of the Senate later, I am still hearing it. For such an alleged dufus, he sure seems to hand the Democrats their asses when it comes to elections. And please save me the black helicopter rountine about Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 and whatever other conspiracy theories exist on the 2002 Congressional elections.

  50. John, “Further, any nominee, conservative or not deserves and up or down vote in the Senate. The constitution says “advice and consent of the Senate” not supermajority of the Senate.”

    The Constitution says that the houses of Congress can establish their own rules and do their business any way they see fit.

    BTW, do the bills about minimum wages and universal catastophic health insurance deserve up or down votes as well? Or does the right to push through your agenda with 51 votes, opposition be damned, only apply to irreversible, lifetime appointments to the branch that is supposed to be apolitical?

  51. Joe,

    Thats right the Senate can make its own rules. Then you won’t have any problem when the Republicans use their majority power to change those rules and end the right to filabuster over judicial nominees. Correct? Because afterall, if it was a Republican minority who were filabustering someone you supported you would stand behind their right to do that, assumeing those were the rules of course.

  52. John,

    If the Republicans want to change the Senate rules, they should have at it. According to the Senate rules, it takes 60 votes to cut off debate, and it takes a two-thirds majority to change a rule. If they’ve got 67 Senators who want to change the cloture rule, they should change it.

    What they should not do is cheat, as they have been theatening, and simply ignore the rules they find momentarily inconvenient.

    If the Republicans fillibustered a Democratic nominee, I’d raise holy hell – assuming he was a nominee who would stand up to scrutiny, and who a majority of the public would endorse for the Supreme Court. Otherwise, I’d just be picking a political fight I couldn’t win.

  53. Joe,

    That is not how I read the rules. If the Republicans are breaking the rules, then the Democrats should take them to court over it. My guess is that it would be left as a political matter and no court would overturn the decision to end filabusters on judicial nominees. The bottom line is that it sucks to be a minority and the Republicans need to start treating the Democrats like what they are, A MINORITY PARTY. Make no mistake about it, that is exactly how the Democrats would act if they were in the majority. Scream all you want, but you have lost three elections in a row and that has consequences, one of them being, you don’t get to pick the next Supreme Court Justice. What I think should happen is there should be some kind of limit on how long any of these guys serve. These old farts like Brenen and Rehnquist have no business on the Court at their age and in their health. I would much prefer the Supreme Court have about 1/100th the power that it currently does. Unfortuneately, we are unlikely to go back to former times and have a less activist judiciary. Because of this and the lifespans never dreamed of by the founders, jusitices should not be appointed for life. The political stakes are too high for that. If they weren’t nominated for life, perhaps these nomination hearings would not be so nasty and long as well.

  54. “If the Republicans are breaking the rules, then the Democrats should take them to court over it.”

    I’m not sure, but I don’t think the Rules of the Senate are enforceable in court. I believe they are the Senate’s own to enforce, and the only appeal is in the Court of Public Opinion. I could be wrong, though.

    “Make no mistake about it, that is exactly how the Democrats would act if they were in the majority.” As a matter of fact, the Democrats were the majority party in the Senate for roughly six decades in the 20th century, with only brief interludes, and not once did they attempt to change the rules of the Senate without going through the procedure the Rules outline for making changes. Not even when they won three elections in a row.

    You may be right about lifetime appointements, though.

  55. John,

    The rules of the senate are clear. Whether you personally think being in the minority gives you a say or not is of no significance whatsoever. The rules in the senate GRANT THE MINORITY the ability to stop business in its tracks with a filibuster. YOU can scream all you want that Dems have lost the last 2 presidential elections and lost control and BLAH BLAH. But you can not act like the minority party has no rights simple because they are a minority.

    We are a republic and the rights of the minority will be respected, whether youi personally agree with it or not.

    The Dems never pulled this kind of absolute power crap when they were in charge, and its disgraceful to see someone defending these kinds of craptastic actions.

    The rules need to apply to everyone. Minority rights were respected when the GOP was a minority, and they must be respected when the Dems are a minority.

  56. BTW, do the bills about minimum wages and universal catastophic health insurance deserve up or down votes as well?

    Well, no, mostly because such bills are grossly unconstitional exercises of power when considered by the national government, at least if you take the words of the Constitution seriously concerning such issues as limited government and enumerated powers. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.

  57. Chicago Tom,

    The Democrats never resorted to these tactics because they never had to. The Republicans never said a word about Steven Bryer or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, both of whom held repugnant judicial ideologies from the Republican point of view. But, the fact was, Bill Clinton won the election and had a right to appoint the Justices of his choosing, absent an outright crook or someone grossly unqualified, which Breyer and Ginsburg were neither. Your post is the typical Democratic heads I win tails you loose attitude. Our guys are always reasonable and your guys are extremists. Bullshit. If the Democrats would be correct in filabustering Roberts, then the Republicans should have filabustered Breyer or Ginsburg, two justices who had much poorer resumes than Roberts. They didn’t do that and they were right to. Clinton had a right to appiont justices just like Bush does.

  58. What if Roberts is not lying? What if he honestly doesn’t remember ever belonging to the FS or serving on the steering committee?

    Do we really want a new Supreme Court justice who is already growing senile?

  59. Bill Clinton won the election and had a right to appoint the Justices of his choosing, absent an outright crook or someone grossly unqualified, which Breyer and Ginsburg were neither.

    See, I don’t buy that. The President is supposed to reach a compromise with the Senate, so that the third branch of government is chosen by the joint consent of the executive and legislative branches (well, half the legislative branch, but you get my point). When somebody says “It’s the President’s nominee, so unless there’s an obvious problem the Senate should go along” I just don’t buy it. The Senate gets a say.

    Now, whether the Senate’s say in the matter should be decided by a simple majority or 3/5 or whatever is another matter. But I just don’t buy the notion that the President should get his way because he won an election. The Senators also won elections.

  60. Thoreau,

    The question is, what do you mean by the Senate? I think the Senate does get a say namely in that a majority of the Senators can vote down a nominee. What is going on here is people like Chicago Tom don’t like the outcome of a vote, so we get new rules, so that a majority is not good enough. Now, it has to be 60 Senators to agree, even though the Consitution says nothing about that. If the Republicans had 61 Senators, Chicago Tom and Joe would be telling us how, you really need 70 votes for it to be legit. I just the Democrats would admit the truth, which is no conservative can ever sit on the court regardless of how many elections Republicans win or how many Senate seats they have. We had a system and some decorum when the Democrats controled the Whitehouse, but now that that Republicans control the Whitehouse all the rules change and the minority is now so important. Ultimately, there is no reasoning or negotiating with the Democratic Party. Therefore, there is no reason for Bush to try. It buys him nothing. He should use whatever raw political power he has to get his nominee through the Senate. The idea that he can somehow reason with the Democrats in Congress and come to a consensus choice is a fools game.

  61. Democrats held the majority for so many years that they don’t know how to behave civily as a minority party, coming off like tantrum throwing spoiled brats.

    Republicans are well mannered in a minority role, but come off like bullies when they hold a majority.

  62. John-

    I realize that 51 votes vs. 60 is nowhere in the Constitution. But I think that if ANYTHING should be subject to a minority veto it’s a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.

  63. And, lest anybody think I’m saying I don’t care about the Constitution, I think the Constitution leaves enough wiggle room (in the Senate rules) to have a minority veto via Senate rules. Remember that there is a very long tradition of the Senate having complex rules that enable the minority to thwart the majority. It’s not like this started when Bush took office.

  64. John, your argument is swiss cheese.

    “If the Republicans had 61 Senators, Chicago Tom and Joe would be telling us how, you really need 70 votes for it to be legit.” I’ve been quoting the established rules of the Senate at you.

    “The Democrats never resorted to these tactics because they never had to. The Republicans never said a word about Steven Bryer or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, both of whom held repugnant judicial ideologies from the Republican point of view. But, the fact was, Bill Clinton won the election and had a right to appoint the Justices of his choosing, absent an outright crook or someone grossly unqualified, which Breyer and Ginsburg were neither…If the Democrats would be correct in filabustering Roberts, then the Republicans should have filabustered Breyer or Ginsburg, two justices who had much poorer resumes than Roberts.”

    Clinton approached Republican Senate Judiciary Commitee Chair Orrin Hatch and secured his approval before announcing the nomination of Ginsberg and Breyer. The more civil era you’re yammering about under Clinton was largely the consequence of the high degree of deference he showed to the opposition when he was president.

    But so what? Facts and history just don’t matter to you, do they John? It doesn’t matter what the rules of the Senate are, and have been. It doesn’t matter what the practices for judicial nominees has been. It doesn’t matter what role and character the Senate has, and that the responsibility to confirm judges was laid with them for that reason.

    If the process isn’t the way you want it to be for the fight you have at the moment, then the process is corrupt. If the President’s agenda might meet some kind of effective resistance, then the Senate Democrats are unreasonable, crude, and can’t be dealth with like civilized people. It’s the same thing every time with you people – if there’s the barest threat that everything isn’t going to go the way George Bush wants, you start calling people names and insisting on your right to break the rules.

    I don’t think the people are buying it anymore.

  65. BTW, what makes you so certain Roberts is going to be fillibustered? To tell you the truth, as weak as your “argugment” against the fillibuster might be, it looks even weaker when you make it clear, as you did, that your principles on the question is part of a particular fight you anticipate.

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