MartiniPundit

Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

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The Democrats are standing athwart the tracks and yelling “Stop!”

Senate Democrats are considering filibustering Alberto Gonzales’ nomination to be attorney general over his role in developing the Bush administration’s policies on treating foreign detainees. No final decision has been made yet, but at least two Democrats — Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Democratic Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois — planned to urge the Democratic caucus Tuesday to consider filibustering Gonzales’ nomination, said a Senate Democratic aide, who spoke on conditions of anonymity.

A filibuster, a parliamentary tactic for delaying Senate action, would require Republicans, who hold a 55-44 majority in the Senate, to win over at least five Democrats — or four Democrats plus Vermont Sen. James Jeffords, an independent — to put Gonzales in office.

No, it will mean an end to the use of the filibuster for nominees. All Senator Frist has to do is introduce a rules change to restrict the use of the filibuster to legislation and resolutions and carry it with 51 votes. Alternatively, he could keep the filibuster for nominees but actually require the filibustering Senators to keep speaking on the floor in order to prevent a vote. If the Democrats believe that Gonzales is Torquemada then they should vote against him. To use the increasingly discredited parliamentary filibuster is making them look desperate and toothless using extra-constitutional political tricks to achieve what they cannot win at the ballot box. The word “filibuster” does not appear in the Constitution, which says of nominees:

[The President] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States … From Article II, Section 2, [emphasis mine]

The filibuster is well within the Senate’s purview as a procedural means of fulfilling its ‘Advice and Consent’ function, and equally within the purview of the Senate leadership to restrict or even abolish it. It’s utility as a tool which protects the minority senators can be debated, but its supra-majority requirements are not in accord with the checks and balances instituted by the Founding Fathers who used separate but equal branches of government and a bicameral legislature to accomplish those ends.

The filibuster is nothing more than senatorial courtesy – which is a thing as nonexistent as John Kerry’s mission to run weapons to the Khmer Rouge. It’s time the business of the American people stopped being beholden to one bloviating senior Senator from Massachusetts who had the unmitigated gall to discuss drowning with Judge Gonzales. The voters have spoken in two elections now to stop Democratic obstruction – it’s high time the Senate Republicans listened.

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Written by martinipundit

February 1, 2005 at 5:57 pm

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