Carol Platt Liebau

Friday, March 04, 2005

Stunning hypocrisy. Robert Byrd has a problem with the "nuclear option" being forced on the Senate by the Democrats' intransigence and unprecedented use of the filibuster against judicial nominees.

Not surprisingly, Senator Byrd isn't honest. He writes:

Senators must apply their best judgment to each [judicial] selection. If a senator believes a nominee should not be confirmed, he has a duty not to consent to confirmation. Yet for the temporary goal of confirming a handful of objectionable judicial nomineees, those pushing the nuclear option would callously trample on freedom of speech and debate.

Senator Byrd's piece shows an ignorance or a disingenuousness that -- whichever it is -- is truly frightening. No one is forcing a senator to "consent" to anything against his will. Instead, those supporting the rules change are requiring senators to state whether they support or oppose a particular nominee by requiring an up or down vote. And no one's free speech rights are being trampled -- there will be ample time to debate any nomination a senator wishes to discuss. The difference is that debate cannot be eternal. Finally, at some point, senators will be required either to oppose or support a nomination -- which, after all, is their job. That is, to vote on the nominations before them . . . not just allow a minority push them off for neverending "debate."

In his online Weekly Standard column, Hugh Hewitt eviscerates Byrd, and points out that he himself favored analogous rule changes to Senate rules when it benefited his party -- so Byrd's opposition is something less than principled . . . to put it mildly.

One can understand Byrd's unique personal attachment to the filibuster (a former Klansman, he once spoke for 14 hours to prevent cloture on the Civil Rights bill of 1964). Seems he cares more about his own alleged "free speech rights" to unlimited Senate debate than he did about all civil rights for Africian-Americans, but that's another story.

The filibuster's use for judicial nominations is unprecedented. It's time for reform. Outta the way, Bobby Byrd.

2 Comments:

Blogger Bachbone said...

I will lay money that Frist will not do it. Given his record on numerous other matters, my money is safe.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

The situation is even more bizarre than that. Senator Bryd is defending the practice of having an "unlimited" debate that doesn't actually take place. That is, under the present Senate rules a filibuster doesn't require anyone to speak. All that is required is that they say they will. So if we limit Senator Byrd's "unlimited speech" we will actually hear more debate than if we don't limit it. That is, because there actually will be a debate we will at least hear something about the nominee from the Senate floor.

7:59 PM  

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