No More Reaching Across The Damn Aisle: Reason Number 211
Recently, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has written editorials and given speeches in which he made the case for eliminating the Senate filibuster. The problem is that most of what he said was untrue.
Thanks to Air America's Randi Rhodes Show, it's possible for us to examine Frist's statements along with the truth, as delivered by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
It is reproduced here:
Frist Lie: "Never in the history of the Senate had a judicial nominee with majority support been denied an up-or-down vote until two years ago."
Truth: Judicial filibusters have occurred throughout American history, according to Professor Michael Gerhardt and other scholars. Seventeen judicial nominees were filibustered between 1949 and 2002 – including President Johnson's nomination of Abe Fortas to be Chief Justice. Also, 69 judicial nominees of President Clinton were bottled up in Committee and denied an up-or-down vote. Is Senator Frist saying that none of those 69 nominees had majority support?
Not Elena Kagan, who went on to becomes the first female Dean of Harvard Law School? Not Alan Schneider, who clerked for Chief Justice Rehnquist? It is hypocritical for Republicans to complain about the treatment of 10 Bush nominees when they denied 69 Clinton nominees.
Frist Lie: "They wouldn't allow votes because they knew the nominees would be confirmed and become judges"
Truth: 95 percent of President Bush's nominees were confirmed. Democrats blocked a small handful of judges because they failed to demonstrate a commitment to fundamental rights.
Frist Lie: "If they don't get their way, they threaten to shut down the Senate and obstruct government"
Truth: Democrats will not shut down the Senate. They will enforce the rules to ensure that the Senate focuses on issues that are important to the American people.
Frist Lie: "Throughout this debate we have held firm to a simple principle. Judicial nominees deserve up-or-down votes. Vote for them, vote against them, but give them the courtesy of a vote."
Truth: (OK, more like citing hypocrisy.): Why did Republicans deny the "courtesy of a vote" to 69 of President Clinton's nominees?
Frist Lie: "Now 46 seats on the federal bench are vacant as case after case and appeal after appeal stack up."
Truth: Vacancies are increasing because the White House has not nominated new judicial candidates. The White House should start picking judges instead of picking fights.
Frist Lie: "Judicial obstruction is judicial obstruction."
Truth: Far from judicial obstruction, the Democrats are fulfilling their constitutional obligation to "advise and consent," consistent with Senate rules. Republicans propose to break those rules to deny Democratic Senators their right to object to extremist judges.
Frist Lie: "But the committee, whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats, will no longer be used to obstruct judicial nominees."
Truth: Now that Republican Senators are dealing with the nominees of a Republican President, they no longer need to block nominees in committee as they did during the Clinton Administration. Proposing to limit the rights of Democratic Senators in the Judiciary Committee is hardly a "compromise."
Frist Lie: "I sincerely hope the Senate minority does not intend to escalate its judicial obstruction to potential Supreme Court nominees. That would be a terrible blow to constitutional principles and to political civility in America."
Truth: Actually, it is the Republican effort to break the rules in order to change the rules that threatens constitutional principles and political civility.
Frist Lie: "No minority ever denied a judicial nominee with majority support an up-or-down vote until the last congress."
Truth: Repetition of this lie will not make it true.
Frist Lie: "Senators have a duty to vote up or down on judicial nominees, confirm them or deny them, but give them all the courtesy of a vote."
Truth: Actually, Senators have a constitutional duty to offer advice and consent on presidential nominations. Part of that duty is the duty to reject extremist nominees, consistent with the senate rules.