May 10, 2005

George Mitchell on the Filibusters

The Not-So-Secret History of Filibusters
EVERYONE recalls "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," but too few remember the real-life Mrs. Smith. So, as the Senate nears a vote on a proposal to unilaterally change Senate rules for confirming federal judges, I am reminded of the words spoken 55 years ago by Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine in her famous "Declaration of Conscience" against the tactics of Senator Joe McCarthy, a member of her own party.

"I don't believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest," the senator said. "Surely we Republicans aren't that desperate for victory. While it might be a fleeting victory for the Republican Party, it would be a more lasting defeat for the American people. Surely it would ultimately be suicide for the Republican Party and the two-party system that has protected our American liberties from the dictatorship of a one-party system."

The circumstances are obviously different; there is no McCarthyism in the current dispute. But the principles of exercising independent judgment and preserving our system of checks and balances are at the heart of the Senate rules debate. [...]

Since 1789, the Senate has rejected nearly 20 percent of all nominees to the Supreme Court, many without an up-or-down vote.

In 1968 Republican senators used a filibuster to block voting on President Lyndon B. Johnson's nominee for chief justice of the Supreme Court. During the debate, a Republican senator, Robert Griffin, said: "It is important to realize that it has not been unusual for the Senate to indicate its lack of approval for a nomination by just making sure that it never came to a vote on the merits. As I said, 21 nominations to the court have failed to win Senate approval. But only nine of that number were rejected on a direct, up-and-down vote."

Between 1968 and 2001, both parties used filibusters to oppose judicial nominees. In 2000, the last year of Bill Clinton's presidency, Republican senators filibustered two of his nominees to be circuit judges. They also prevented Senate votes on more than 60 of Mr. Clinton's judicial nominees by other means.

So much for the assertion that filibustering to prevent votes on judicial nominees is a new tactic invented by Senate Democrats.
The Senate Republican are using outright lies to debate their nuclear option on filibuster. Republicans use shameless tactics to deny Bill Clinton nominees during the 90’s now they have complete power they want to change the rules to pass President Bush nominees. The GOP is the party of hypocrisy.


Post a Comment

<< Home