Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Thoughts on Judicial Nominations 

First thought: Danny Graves sucks.

Second thoughts: I posted the comment below on this conservative blog that Andrew Sullivan linked to. I thought I'd post it here as well, since there has been a dearth in posting lately and since I know everyone is dying to hear my thoughts on this issue.

The Post:

My response to this analysis has always been: who cares? It’s true, conservative minorities (both Democrats and Republicans) in the 1950s and 60s did not filibuster judicial nominations - they were too busy filibustering civil rights legislation. The point is, there’s not that much that a minority in Congress can do. You have to pick your battles. Conservatives in the 50s and 60s realized that it was very important to their constituents to live in a segregated society - and this was the battle they were willing to fight. Democrats in Congress today have had no choice but to allow large chunks of the Bush agenda to become law - No Child Left Behind, tax cuts, drug benefits, a war, Bankruptcy Bill and more. They have focused their resources on the issue of judges. It is very important to the Democrats’ constituents that they live in a world where the government cannot force women to give birth, where the federal government can fight discrimination and protect the environment, where the New Deal remains Constitutional and where a child-like literal reading of the Constitution is not the means by which important judicial decisions are made.

Obviously, I don’t agree at all with the conservative viewpoint in the 50s and 60s, but nobody can deny that racism was extremely important to the minority in Congress and their constituents - so important, that they were willing to shut down the Senate to prevent civil rights legislation from being passed. Well, the Democrats are just as passionate about protecting the integrity of the judiciary. (We also have the advantage of being correct on this issue, unlike the Senate minorities of the 50s and 60s.) We are willing to shut down the Senate to stop Bush from nominating very conservative judges. If the Republicans want to take away the filibuster on this issue, Democrats can and should shut the entire Senate down.

I’m taking these statistics at face value and assuming that they’re not misleading in any way (although that’s possible). These statistics could just as easily be used as evidence that Republican Presidents nominate more radical and unacceptable judges - something that is too subjective for statistics to capture.

The bottom line is, minorities in the Senate only have the ability to use their limited powers - especially the filibuster - on certain issues. Just because no minority has found judicial nominations important enough to filibuster in the past doesn’t mean that doing so unconstitutional.
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