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Editorial on judicial nominations in today's RCJ

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Liberty Belle

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Judges should have floor vote
By The Journal Editorial Board

The United States Senate is headed for a train wreck over judicial nominations that could come as early as this week, when lawmakers return from their Easter vacation. Republicans want to bring to an end the practice of Democrats' using the filibuster to prevent confirmation votes on President Bush's nominations to the federal bench and against future nominations, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Democrats are threatening to bring the Senate to a halt if the so-called "nuclear option" is triggered by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

The nuclear option is changing the rules on filibusters - where 60 votes are required to end debate on legislation, procedure or nominations - of judicial nominations - and only on judicial appointments - to a simple majority vote by appealing an attempted filibuster to the presiding officer, and if the chair upholds the filibuster, overturning the chair's ruling with a majority vote.
It is interesting that so many Democrats refer to changing the filibuster rules regarding judicial nominations as tampering with the Constitution. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., wrote in the March 4 Washington Post that the Constitution does not guarantee the president a vote on his judicial appointments, and that ending filibusters on judges was just the first step toward "tyranny by the majority."

It is true that the Constitution gives the Senate "advice and consent" on executive and judicial nominations that does not specify a vote is required. Neither does the Constitution mention filibusters, only that "each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings." Senate rules allow filibusters, but it's not a constitutional mandate.

Besides, as pointed out by the Wall Street Journal in its March 7 editorial, "The Byrd Option," when Sen. Byrd was Senate majority leader, he changed the filibuster rule in his favor on at least four occasions. In 1980, he prevented a Republican-led filibuster of the confirmation of Robert White as ambassador to El Salvador by a simple majority vote.

This is an ideological battle for control of the judiciary branch. The president's nominees that Democratic senators find objectionable are all qualified to serve on the federal bench, but they are too conservative for Democratic support groups that don't want conservative judges deciding case law.

We hope cooler heads prevail when this issue comes to the fore, and the threat of the "nuclear option" is enough to gain a floor vote for President Bush's judicial nominees. Republicans won't always have the White House and control of the Senate. However, we also believe the president's nominees deserve an up-or-down floor vote on their confirmation. It doesn't matter if the president is Republican or Democrat; his nominations deserve a confirmation vote. If it takes changing the Senate's filibuster rule to accomplish this, then we urge Sen. Frist to go ahead and push the "nuclear option."
 

Brad S

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I think they should stack up some nominees and then push them through. If they want to control the media, they should have an old fashioned filibuster for a month or two, then go to plan B to "end the buster and save the constitution"
 

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