April 26, 2005

Nuclear Option? Constitutional Option? What's a Girl to Think?

from - smijer

constitution.jpgOn my way to work yesterday, I heard the announcer on NPR discussing how the Democrats refererred to the elimination of the judicial filibuster as the "nuclear option". The times we live in are truly Orwellian. Just a few words from high in the ruling party's chain of command and suddenly the media will begin ubiquitously reporting an outright falsehood. That is just scary.

Thankfully, this web site is not in the employ of the ruling party, and is free to report the true facts. And, one true fact is that the preferred term that the GOP uses to refer to eliminating the judicial filibuster, the "Constitutional Option", is a misnomer.

The Constitution is, in fact, silent on the matter of judicial filibuster. The only applicable language in the Constitution is Article I, Section 5:

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

And Article II, Section 2:
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he 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, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

Currently, the Senate rules which were Constitutionally made, require votes of cloture before moving a matter before the full senate. These moves require a sixty vote majority. Personally, I think this rule is a wise and sound one. There will always be times when a simple majority holds power in the Senate and shares power with the House and the executive branch. In those times, without such wise rules as those that require cloture on important votes, extremist elements within the majority party will have too little resistance, and dangerous and radical shifts in governance will be possible before the American public has a chance to even know what is going on.

My view isn't written in stone, and I won't bore anyone with it any longer. The important thing is to get the message out to all of the people who are going to hear the press repeating the administration's talking points about this, that there is nothing in the Constitution requiring a simple majority vote on judicial appointments. The elimination of the filibuster is cannot rightly be called the "Constitutional Option".

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Posted by smijer at April 26, 2005 07:49 AM
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