Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, November 14, 2013 7:52 pm

Senate Republicans continue to abuse the filibuster


Senate Republicans have filibustered three of President Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court. (There are three vacancies on an eight-judge panel.) The GOP has accused Obama of 1) “court-packing” and 2) appointing “radicals” to those seats.

“Court packing,” like so many words Republicans like to toss around, has an actual meaning. Also, like so many of the words Republicans toss around, it does not mean what they think it means. It stems from the 1930s, when FDR became so frustrated at opposition in the federal courts to some of his New Deal measures that he contemplated increasing the number of seats on the Supreme Court and elsewhere in the federal judiciary to create room for majorities who would uphold his policies. (That didn’t happen, by the way; natural turnover solved some of his problem over time.) But today’s GOP calls filling existing vacancies “court packing.” Uh, no.

Now, then, as for the radicals: The most liberal of the three D.C. Circuit nominees is probably Cornelia “Nina” Pillard. And how radical is she?

Well …

Pillard’s nomination was easily the most controversial for conservatives in the Senate, who voiced concerns over her “radical” views connecting reproductive rights to gender equality as well as her history working on significant cases such as United States v. Virginia, which opened the Virginia Military Institute to women, and Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs, which successfully defended the Family and Medical Leave Act against a constitutional challenge.

Gee. That sounds bad. But was it?

It’s hard to imagine evidence of “radicalism” being much more feeble. You don’t exactly have to be Catharine MacKinnon to believe that states denying women the same educational opportunities as men violates the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. Indeed, Pillard’s position won at the Supreme Court 7-1. Similarly, arguing that the FMLA—which passed the Senate 71-27—was applicable against state employers is not exactly revolutionary. The Supreme Court agreed in a 6-3 opinion authored by noted left-wing fanatic William Rehnquist (who also voted with the majority in the VMI case.)

Sooooo … the cases about which Pillard is getting the most grief are cases in which she 1) prevailed, and not narrowly, at the Supreme Court, with 2) William Rehnquist, one of the most conservative justices to sit on the high court in the past 75 years, agreeing with her.

In related news, the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt (with whom I have my own problems, but that’s a story for another time) to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency also was filibustered. That marked the first time a sitting member of Congress had been denied an up-or-down vote on a presidential appointment since 1843. No, that’s not a typo.

It’s almost as if Senate Republicans aren’t actually concerned about nominees’ competence, character, or even politics. It’s almost as if they’re concerned about … well, something else. But I can’t quite put my finger on it. I wonder what it might be?

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10 Comments »

  1. Puleeze .. Victim. ?? OMG what what BS.

    Ask Terrence Boyle about victomhood after being screwed over my bitter vindictive Bush ( both ) hating D.s for decades

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Thursday, November 14, 2013 8:01 pm @ 8:01 pm | Reply

  2. Oops the link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrence_Boyle

    ( victimhood )

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Thursday, November 14, 2013 8:05 pm @ 8:05 pm | Reply

  3. Yeah, I read that. Did you catch the part where Boyle was voted out of committee in June 2005, when Republicans held the chamber and Majority Leader Bill Frist could have called a vote any damn time he pleased, but he didn’t? And no mention of a filibuster, because there wasn’t one. And then the Dems took control in January 2007. So the GOP had an 18-month window, without a filibuster, when Frist could have parked Boyle on the 4th Circuit, and HE didn’t do it. So you need to take that up with Frist. And, oh, yes, that ABSOLUTELY equates to the current GOP’s *unprecedented* use of the filibuster to prevent ANY Obama nominee from getting an up-or-down vote. It’s the EXACT SAME THING. In a parallel universe, but still.

    Fred, since 2004 12 senators have either pledged never to filibuster a court nominee or have gone even farther and said that the filibuster is unconstitutional. All 12 of them voted against cloture on the three D.C. Circuit nominees in the past week. Of the 12, 11 were Republicans. I want the filibuster to remain an option for both parties, but only if it’s brought out only in dire circumstances. The only way you can tell me that EVERY SINGLE CANDIDATE listed in the HuffPo piece linked above constitutes a “dire circumstance” is if ANY Obama nominee is a “dire circumstance” or if ANY woman or person of color is a “dire circumstance.” Those are the only two explanations. Because if Nina Pillard, who got large SCOTUS majorities including William Rehnquist to see things her way on multiple occasions, is a radical, I’m Adolf f*cking Hitler.

    Comment by Lex — Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:04 pm @ 9:04 pm | Reply

  4. Guiten Morgen !!

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, November 15, 2013 2:00 am @ 2:00 am | Reply

  5. Omama, Reid amd their gang are hypocrites, douches …pukes… punks.. Not forgotten .. thier own words . Sigh !

    Ride it cowboy but there will be a day of comeuppance , brother. Count on it.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, November 22, 2013 1:00 am @ 1:00 am | Reply

  6. I think what I said in the original post stands, including my wish that this wouldn’t have been necessary. That said, 82 of Obama’s appointments have been filibustered compared with 86 under all 43 previous presidents combined. You can’t tell me there’s not a problem.

    Comment by Lex — Friday, November 22, 2013 8:58 am @ 8:58 am | Reply

  7. 200 years of precedent down the crapper. Hypocritical asshats.. period !!!

    BTW, please link yoir claim ( 82 of Obama’s appointments have been filibustered compared with 86 under all 43 previous presidents combined) . and not from some lefty fabulist

    And anyway, from the Corner, cold water on that whine:

    “So is the Republican use of the filibuster today simply fair turn-around — with Democrats in no position to complain when Republicans use tactics they themselves introduced? If so, that would be enough to illustrate the hypocrisy of today’s Democratic protests. But that’s not what’s at issue here. In the D.C. Circuit matter, which has driven Senator Reid to the nuclear option, Republicans are not raising ideological objections to Obama’s nominees — as Democrats did when they filibustered Bush’s picks. Their objection, rather, is that these judges are not needed, because the workload of the court is so light. In fact, speaking of hypocrisy, Democrats, in the minority in the 109th Congress, used that very rationale to urge Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter in a July 2006 letter not to confirm any additional Bush nominees to the D.C. Circuit — and none was confirmed after that letter from Senators Leahy, Feinstein, Schumer, and Durbin was sent, all of whom are still on the committee. Yet now, when the court’s workload is even lighter, Democrats cry foul when Republicans point that out.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, November 22, 2013 7:43 pm @ 7:43 pm | Reply

  8. I’ll find the link after I put the last revisions on my thesis. As for the argument that the court’s caseload is light, if that’s the case, why are so many cases going to senior (i.e., retired) judges, most of whom are conservative Republicans? THAT’s what the GOP is really after: to preserve that status quo. Confirmation would take cases out of those retired conservatives’ hands and put them in the hands of (presumably) more liberal judges.

    And if you want real, true hypocrisy on the correctness, or even the constitutionality, of the filibuster, you’ve got to turn to the GOP.

    Comment by Lex — Friday, November 22, 2013 8:18 pm @ 8:18 pm | Reply

  9. Also, Fred, it ain’t just the D.C. Circuit. Obama’s got something like 93 appointments that have been filibustered up ’til now, including positions like head of ATF. Really, if you need context (and one usually does), the Corner is not the best place to find it.

    Comment by Lex — Friday, November 22, 2013 8:20 pm @ 8:20 pm | Reply

  10. LOL and BOTR is ? Give us a break, Sheesh 1

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Saturday, November 23, 2013 12:12 am @ 12:12 am | Reply


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