Friday, December 24, 2004

Recycling Failed Judicial Appointments

On November 14, 2002, President George W. Bush declared that November 15, 2002, would be "America Recycles Day". He stated
Our Nation also continues to develop innovative ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle our waste. Although we have made significant progress, much work still remains. Americans generate more than 230 million tons of solid waste each year. Simple measures can help communities, businesses, and individuals decrease waste and extend the use of our natural resources. Individuals and families can participate in the recycling programs offered in their neighborhoods.

Sometimes it is helpful to reuse things in our society. However, is it wise or politically effective to bring back rejected judges from the prior term so that you can with a so-called razor-thin mandate, try to force these judges down the throats of your loyal opposition? Is this called working with the guys across the aisle?

As reported today in the Springfield, Missouri,
Refusing to be brushed off by Democratic opposition in the Senate, President Bush plans to nominate for a second time 20 people who did not receive up or down votes on their nominations for federal judgeships.
The Democrats' ability to stall certain White House picks for the federal bench was one of the most contentious issues of Bush's first term.

During the past two years, despite the GOP majority in the Senate, Democrats used filibusters to prevent final votes from occurring on 10 of 34 of Bush's nominees to federal appeals courts.

As Senator Patrick Leahy so eloquently has stated:
The earlier Democratic-led Senate confirmed more Bush judicial nominees than the Republican-led Senate has. In all, Democrats have joined in confirming 173 Bush judicial nominees – 100 of them, during the Democratic-led Senate.

So 173 have been confirmed. Six controversial nominees have been blocked. Two of them have been unilaterally appointed by the President during Senate recesses. One has withdrawn to rejoin a lucrative job with a law firm. That leaves three who have been blocked. One-hundred-seventy-three confirmed, to three blocked. Compare that to the more than 60 Clinton judicial nominees who Republicans blocked from even getting hearings, let alone votes.

We also continue to hear a lot of loose talk about so-called “unprecedented” filibusters of a few judicial nominations. These speeches usually include other inaccurate assertions, including the claim that filibusters of judicial nominations are unconstitutional.

And have the Republicans used filibusters in the recent past to block the sitting President's actions? Leahy continues:
During the first two years of the Clinton Administration, Republican filibusters were quite common. In 1993 and 1994, a very disciplined Republican minority in the Senate used the filibuster to block key pieces of President Clinton's legislative agenda, including an economic stimulus package, campaign finance reform, lobbying reform, health care reform, a bill to prohibit hiring permanent replacement workers for striking employees, and racial justice provisions in a crime bill.

Republicans also used a filibuster to block the nomination of Dr. Henry Foster to become Surgeon General, in addition to their failed attempts to block the nominations of judicial nominees. I call the Senate’s attention in particular to the Republican filibusters on the Senate Floor during this period of the nominations of Judge Rosemary Barkett and Judge Lee Sarokin.

And Mr. President, the record in more recent times is replete with other examples of the more than 60 Clinton judicial nominees who Republicans filibustered in committee, denying them hearings and votes.

And what has George W. Bush said himself about working with all Americans? In a speech in Pittsburh on November 4, 2000, he made the now oft-repeated claim:
There’s Democrats all around America who understand there’s a better day tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be the way it is in Washington. We need a uniter, not a divider. The president can set an example for the moms of dads of America.

And what about Kerry? As the Lexington Herald-Leader opined in their endorsement of Senator Kerry:

Kerry was part of the centrist Democrat coalition who, working with Republicans, balanced the budget, put welfare recipients to work, expanded the number of Americans with health insurance, reduced poverty and produced unprecedented economic growth.

In 1985, Kerry voted for the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings balanced-budget act, and he voted again in the '90s to constrain spending. Kerry's record backs up his promise to "pay as we go" and trim the deficit.

In 1859, the English philosopher, John Stuart Mills warned about the "tyranny of the majority." His words today echo every more importantly as we examine the current trends in America:
Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant — society collectively over the separate individuals who compose it — its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development and, if possible, prevent the formation of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs as protection against political despotism. — On Liberty, The Library of Liberal Arts edition, p.7.
John Kerry, our nation needs a leader who understands Freedom and the cost of defending it. We needed you in 2004, and need you more for 2008!



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