Congress

HackWatch: A Good Chunk of the GOP Senate Edition

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Dana Milbank plays gotcha with GOP senators on the filibuster. Surprise! Their feelings on the parliamentary maneuver are largely dependent on who's in power. He starts with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who's leading the filibuster against U.S. District Judge David Hamilton, Obama's first appellate court nominee.

For much of this decade, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, now the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, led the fight against Democratic filibusters of George W. Bush's judicial nominees. He decried Democrats' "unprecedented, obstructive tactics." To have Bush nominees "opposed on a partisan filibuster, it is really wrong," he added. He demanded they get "an up-and-down vote." He praised Republican leaders because they "opposed judicial filibusters" and have "been consistent on this issue even when it was not to their political benefit to do so."

So now a Democratic president is in the White House and he has nominated his first appellate judicial nominee, U.S. District Judge David Hamilton. And what did Sessions do? He went to the floor and led a filibuster.

"I opposed filibusters before," the Alabaman said with his trademark twang. But in this case, he went on, "I don't agree with his judicial philosophy. Therefore, I believe this side cannot acquiesce into a philosophy that says that Democratic presidents can get their judges confirmed with 50 votes."

And the others fall into line…

There was, for example, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.). Back in 2005, he demanded "a simple up-or-down vote" for nominees and urged the Democrats to "move away from advise and obstruct and get back to advise and consent." He declared that Democrats wanted to "take away the power to nominate from the president and grant it to a minority of 41 senators."

On Tuesday, McConnell voted to sustain the filibuster.

There was also Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.), who in 2005 gave his considered opinion that "neither filibusters nor supermajority requirements have any place in the confirmation process."

On Tuesday, Brownback voted in favor of filibusters.

And there was Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who warned four years ago that "if the filibuster becomes an institutional response where 40 senators driven by special interest groups declare war on nominees in the future, the consequence will be that the judiciary will be destroyed over time."

On Tuesday, Graham voted to institutionalize the filibuster.

Not all Republicans senators were inconsistent. Just the vast majority of them. For not even attempting to explain away their hacktasticness, the GOPers get a 9.5 out of 10 on the completely arbitrary Hackery Index.

Last week, HackWatch took aim at lefty Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson for his own flip on the use of the filibuster.

Prior editions of HackWatch here.

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  1. Did Suderman write this?

  2. They are Republican Senators, aren’t they supposed to be hacks? I mean seriously. They are politicians. They get paid to be partisian. It is what you would expect. That doesn’t seem half as disengenious as Meryson, who claims to be a “fair and neutral commentator” being a hack. Unless and until Meryson fesses up and puts a (D) or and (R) by his name, his hackery seems a lot worse.

    1. They don’t get paid to be partisan. That isn’t in their oath of office. They get paid to uphold the Constitution, which virtually none of them do.

      1. Then why the hell are we paying them?

  3. Radley:
    “whose leading the filibuster” needs to be “who’s leading the filibuster.” 😉

  4. Personally, if we’re going to have “filibusters” then by Crom have filibusters. I want reading from the phone book, peeing in jars, and standing there for hours on end nattering negatively. These new fangled bs procedural hijinks don’t deserve to be dignified with the name filibuster. Weak sauce, people, weak sauce.

    1. Nah. Read “Atlas Shrugged”, and really torment the bastards.

  5. And there was Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who warned four years ago that “if the filibuster becomes an institutional response where 40 senators driven by special interest groups declare war on nominees in the future, the consequence will be that the judiciary will be destroyed over time.”

    Yes, but Lindsey Graham was also in the Gang of 14 that promised not to vote to eliminate the filibuster. So I suppose that somewhat reduces his hackery– he wasn’t one of those who voted to eliminate the filibuster. He was part of the compromise whereby people agreed to preserve it but not to use it. (And then it did get used anyway.)

  6. Wow, the party in the minority in the Senate loves the filibuster, and the party in the controlling majority hates it? What a stunning revelation.

    I guess the next big shocker will be all the Senators decrying runaway deficits at the same time they once again vote to raise the debt ceiling.

  7. JB, it’s from Radley Balko. I rather prefer it over what he usually gives us. This is definately easier on my blood pressure.

  8. To be sure, this nominee is pretty frickin’ odious. TLTG, but I believe he is on record as saying that federal judges have the power to amend the Constitution.

    1. Impeach.

  9. I am so grateful to Gun Owners of America for defending the filibuster during the Bush administration (much to the bemusement of Democrats), disregarding the Bushevik script by which ‘true conservatives’ must support ‘majority rule’ in the U.S. Senate (what an inherently absurd concept – as if the U.S. Senate was organized on principles of strict majority rule!).

  10. I don’t get how someone can be a strict constructionist and support the filibuster. The constitution is pretty explicit about how many rules it takes to pass a law and it isn’t 06.

    That isn’t to say that I don’t love me some filibustering when there’s only one party in the White House and the Senate. But bring back old school filibusters.

    1. ‘The constitution is pretty explicit about how many rules it takes to pass a law and it isn’t 06.’

      The Constitution provides that ‘Each House [of Congress] may determine the Rules of its Proceedings,’ but there is no *explicit* requirement that these rules must allow bare majorities to carry the day in all cases. There are requirements for a 2/3 vote for certain things (approving a constitutional amendment, removing disqualifications under the 14th Amendment, the Senate convicting an impeached person), but it doesn’t say that a majority must suffice in other cases.

      I’m talking about what is *explicit.* The closest it gets to explicit is in empowering the House and Senate to make rules for their own proceedings.

      The Senate and the House have both used their rulemaking authority to block bare majorities – whether by keeping bills in committee that a majority wants to approve, or blocking off a filibuster. If these rules are unconstitutional, the constitutional violation is longstanding.

      1. 2/3 to override a veto

  11. This just in: U.S. Senators are partisan hypocrites.

    Other headlines: Sky is Blue; Coffee Without Sugar Tastes Bitter; Fish Unable to Live Out of Water.

    1. That last one is false.

      1. So is the one about coffee.

        “The second is never so sweet … as the first I mean. But it’s sweet just the same.”

    2. and the sky isn’t always blue either

  12. Sessions actually kind of gets close to flat out admitting that it’s his view is that it’s not the filibuster, it’s which side is doing it that matters. Does openly admitting you believe you should be held to different standards than your political opponents make you more or less of a hack?

  13. I say it’s quid pro quo. You guys (i.e. Dems) decided that this was an acceptable tactic, so from now on you can enjoy the fruits of that decision. And we’re all winners as it will make getting anything done that much harder.

    1. Yeah, no one ever filibustered before 2000. *eyeroll*

    2. Also, look up “quid pro quo”.

  14. Judicial appointments should be made via trial by ordeal.

  15. Judicial appointments should be made via trial by ordeal.

    THUNDERDOME!

    Two judges enter, one judge leaves!

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