Thursday, June 6, 2013

Senate Republicans -- Intimidated or Intimidators?

On Tuesday, President Obama nominated three people to fill the three vacant seats on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Republicans are upset.

what eye thynk:   Republicans are upset because Democrats, including the President of the United States, are finally pushing back against Republican obstructionism.  I say, "It's about time!"

During Ronald Reagan's administration, 82% of presidential nominees were confirmed in under 100 days. During President Obama's first term, only 1.9% of his nominees were confirmed in under 100 days, with 55% waiting 200 days or more.  Even winning approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee has not guaranteed a timely vote on the President's nominees. Under President Bush, the time from committee approval to full Senate vote averaged 37 days; under President Obama, the average is 116 days.  Added to the slow pace is the fact that Senate Republicans are using the filibuster rule to insist on 60 votes for confirmation--even on the most uncontroversial nominees.

Blocking or postponing a vote on presidential nominees has become so routine, that it doesn't warrant much news time.  By nominating three at once, the President hopes to expose the continued obstructionist mind-set in the Republican Party.  

Senate Democrats are so frustrated with the Republican over-use of the filibuster that Mr. Reid is re-considering a change to the filibuster rule that would prohibit its use for judicial or cabinet-level nominees.  Mitch McConnell claims that Senator Reid is betraying a commitment to leave the filibuster rule intact.  (Do I hear whining?)

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is the second most important court in the country; and yet, it currently labors with three empty judgeships.  The Court is presently heavy on the conservative side, and  Republicans will do anything to keep it that way.  In fact, some Republican Senators, led by Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) want to simply eliminate the three empty seats, thus barring the President from putting any liberal stamp on the Court.

One of the President's nominees could prove difficult for Republicans to approve.  Cornelia Pillard worked for the Clinton administration and has worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund as well as the American Civil Liberties Union--two liberal organizations whose principles are anathema to Republicans.

However, it will be interesting to see Senate Republicans trying to find reasons to vote "no" on the President's two other nominees.  Patricia Ann Millett served in the solicitor general's office under both President Bill Clinton and later under President George W. Bush.  Robert L. Wilkins was a public defender and corporate defense lawyer before he was confirmed--with unanimous Republican support--to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  Really, how will they explain Mr. Wilkins's sudden unqualified status?

Of course, the hue and cry is already being raised among Senate Republicans. Some Senators are saying that by announcing three nominees at once the President is trying to "steamroll" them.  (Early in his tenure, George W. nominated ten judges at once.)  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voiced his opinion this way:  "There's a culture of intimidation throughout the executive branch.  There's also a culture of intimidation here in the Senate."

Yes, there is--and its name is the Republican Party.

No comments:

Post a Comment