Frist Flexes His Muscles
From the AP
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Thursday urged Democrats to stop blocking President Bush's federal court nominees and hinted that he may try to change Senate rules to thwart their delaying tactics.
"One way or another, the filibuster of judicial nominees must end," Frist, R-Tenn., said in a speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.
The Democrats' ability to stall White House picks for the federal bench was one of the most contentious issues of Bush's first term. Despite the GOP majority in the Senate, Democrats used the threat of a filibuster to block 10 of Bush's nominees to federal appeals courts. The Senate did confirm more than 200 of the president's choices.
Republicans hope their gain of four seats on Election Day will discourage Democrats from using filibusters again. But in a Senate next year with 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats and a Democrat-leaning independent, Democrats still will have the 40 votes necessary to uphold a filibuster.
Frist said filibustering judicial nominees is "radical. It is dangerous and it must be overcome. The Senate must be allowed to confirm judges who fairly, justly and independently interpret the law."
"The Senate cannot allow the filibuster of circuit court nominees to continue." Frist said. "Nor can we allow the filibuster to extend to potential Supreme Court nominees."
While it is widely decried, the "filibuster" has a proper role in politics, especially today. That role is as a brake on the political system; it provides a method of stopping a minority
from seizing power. Frist sees it differently however; since he and the conservatives are the apostles of liberty (and in the majority to boot), their political goals cannot
constitute tyranny. Hence, his conclusion that potential democratic filibustering is "nothing less than a formula for tyranny by the minority."
While Frist's call to increase the number of senators required for a filibuster (currently 40) has failed so far (it would require 2/3 vote to change), it will be interesting to see if the idea catches on, especially if Bush nominates true theocrats to the bench, only to see them filibustered into oblivion. If the Senate chair were to rule filibustering judicial nominees unconstitutional, only 51 senators would have to vote "yea" to uphold the ruling. Another point of interest, will any democrats, mindful of elections, cross party lines to end
POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 1:37 AM