4th and Game Over

November 26, 2013

By: Rob Jones
We are all used to hearing squabbles in politics. They are common place, healthy, and keeps both sides on a pretty even playing field. This past Thursday, however, was a revelation, when senate democrats puled a rules change, known as the “nuclear option”. The nuclear option allows the majority to advance its agenda, unchecked, through the courts and executive agencies. The senate voted 52 to 48, to pass the nuclear option, with all republicans voting against it. This eliminates the filibuster, which required 60 votes, to move to an up or down vote. This is a very dangerous slope that the democratic majority has put the senate on. This does nothing more, than allow an endless tyranny, perpetrated by the majority. If a majority of the senate can change the rules, just what do we have senate rules for? We don’t have rules. The senate can end a filibuster on legislation, taking the only obstacle of a “tyranny of the majority”. Democrats did offer some flimsy excuses for invoking the nuclear option.
The first excuse is that Obama’s appointees have been unfairly denied seats by failed cloture votes or filibusters. We know this to be false, as the Congressional Research Service says that no Supreme Court nominee has been defeated by a filibuster in the senate. There have been zero federal court judges filibustered. There have been zero cabinet nominees filibustered. Obama did have two sub-cabinet nominees filibustered, but Bush had three and Clinton had two. The republicans have blocked five appeals court judges, but only after the democrats blocked five.
The second excuse was that Obama’s nominees have waited too long for confirmation. Going back to the Congressional Research Service, we can see that Obama’s second term cabinet nominees have been confirmed at about the same rate as both Bush and Clinton. This year alone, Obama has had 36 of his second-term nominees to circuit and district courts confirmed, where Bush had only 14, by the same point of 2005.
On Friday, the senate’s executive calendar had 54 nominees, who have been waiting less than three weeks for confirmation! Only 16 had waited for nine weeks and eight, who have waited more than nine weeks and two of those were being “held” by democratic senators.
The third excuse was that republicans constantly obstruct, leaving the democratic majority leader unable to act. Only democratic committee majorities can place nominees on the executive calendar. Only the majority leader can move their confirmation and can do so at his discretion. What if republicans, who were obstructing, decided to place holds on 10 sub-cabinet nominees? Under the senate rules, before last Thursday, the majority leader could file a “Cloture motion” on those nominees on Monday and confirmed them by Friday, unless 41 republicans against cloture. Our own majority leader, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, in his last speech to the senate, warned against destroying the filibuster, which he called the “necessary fence” against the executive and popular passions. Byrd further said, that the majority could do whatever they needed to do, under the senate rules.
The fourth excuse was that republicans unfairly blocked the president filling vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals, for the D.C. Circuit. In 2006, democrats were doing exactly what republicans are asking in 2013: moving judges from courts where they are not needed, to courts where they are needed most. The democrats did not find this unfair then. In 2006, democrats on the Judiciary Committee, to include Sens. Leahy, Biden, Schumer, and Durbin said that “under no circumstances” should new judges be confirmed to the D.C. Court, as its workload was half that of the national average and there were “judicial emergencies” elsewhere.
So, why would Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., engineer a rules change that he said “would be the end of the senate”, in 2006? Simply put, it had nothing to do with the filibuster and everything to do with allowing the democratic majority to do what whatever it wants. Obama has sidestepped the Constitution over and over again, unchecked. Now, the senate majority will be able to run end games on republicans, unchecked. Just imagine what the nuclear option will do for the furthering of Obama’s agenda. God Bless You, God Bless West Virginia, and God Bless America.



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