January 31, 2006

The Two-Edged Sword

Hatched by Dafydd

In another rare disagreement with one of my favorite bloggers at my favorite blog, Power Line -- Paul this time, not John -- I have to take exception to what Paul calls the "Alito rule":

This was basically a straight party line vote -- 90 percent of the Democrats voted no. The vote changes the "rules" for confirming Supreme Court Justices. Under the Alito rule, Senators will vote against highly qualified nominee for no reason other than that they expect the nominee to rule contrary to their preference on major issues. Under the Alito rule, the president's party, in effect, must control the Senate in order for the president to have top-notch nominees of his choice confirmed. When the the president's party doesn't control the Senate, only compromise nominees acceptable to both parties can expect to be confirmed.

Typically, I find Paul more equivocal than I; but this time, our roles are reverse: I think Paul draws too sweeping a conclusion.

In fact, I believe that the Alito Rule -- party-line vote for Supreme-Court nominees in the Senate -- will apply in the future only when the president is a Republican. When a Democrat is in the White House and nominates a controversial but highly regarded leftist to the Court, the Republicans will be unable or unwilling to use the "Alito Rule" against him: they will vote for the nominee the same way they voted for Ginsburg and Breyer.

Republicans have proven over and over that on certain issues, they will take the high road, following their own consciences, whatever that may entail, even when the position is a political loser; in fact, even when it's political party suicide. Look at Sen. Arlen Specter calling for hearings into the NSA al-Qaeda-tapping program, or to conservative Republicans who vote against the president's position on any number of issues, from drilling in ANWR to reforming Social Security to banning partial-birth abortion.

Notwithstanding the foul, revolting Democratic revolt against Samuel Alito, in which they finally stooped all the way down to personal vilification and out and out slander -- if there were not an exception carved out for speeches on the floor of Congress, a number of Democratic senators would find themselves in civil court -- I see no evidence that Republicans plan on following suit the next time a Democratic president nominates another Ginsburg. Rather, they will complain bitterly, recall the Alito mini-fili and the near party-line vote, lecture the Democrats -- and then hold their noses and once again vote for the qualified but far-left nominee.

It's simply one element of the Culture of Clarity that permeates the Republican Party. And the Democrats know it... they would never dare push the envelope as they do if they thought the GOP would respond in kind.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 31, 2006, at the time of 3:25 PM

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Paul at Power Line disagrees with my earlier analysis, that the "Alito Rule" will not really take, because Republicans won't follow the Democrats' lead in trashing the system. He notes that the Alito Rule is one of procedure, not substance,... [Read More]

Tracked on February 1, 2006 10:27 PM


The following hissed in response by: Stephen Macklin

"they would never dare push the envelope as they do if they thought the GOP would respond in kind."

I guess it probably comes down to conservatives holding on to such quaint ideas as "two wrongs don't make a right." As opposed to a more liberal "two wrongs might help me get what I want" kind of approach.

The above hissed in response by: Stephen Macklin [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 31, 2006 5:17 PM

The following hissed in response by: mareseydoats

Unnecessarily so...

I, and many Republicans, will INSIST on parity in this process should roles be reversed. (Little good it does me now, given the senators we have in Michigan, but a "Spence Abraham" moment could return.) Principles are one thing; discipline another. A bully learns nothing from a stern lecture and if reform is beyond his grasp a behavioral modification is still possible. But it usually requires a bloody nose and a fat lip.

I know the GOP has been cited for an abundance of civility, voting for so many uber-liberal Clinton appointees with such grace again and again, but I am eternally unconvinced. If memory serves, the FBI's security clearance files for the Republican members of congress miraculously appeared in Hillary's part of the White House one fine morning. Amazingly, they were placed there by a gentleman whose career path reached its apex under the job description, "bouncer". No clearances, no government job, no skills, no accountability. Odd, eh? How much blackmail - genteel, discreet, subtle blackmail - changed Republican votes during the 80's? How many of those same senators and representatives are still vulnerable?

And Hillary still has the nerve to speak about a "culture of corruption". PUHLEEEZE.

Gloves off, I say.

The above hissed in response by: mareseydoats [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 31, 2006 5:47 PM

The following hissed in response by: senorlechero

You are correct on this one Dafydd, although I'm not sure Paul was suggesting that Republicans would follow the rule, he was simply pointing out that the Dems had created a new rule, as they have so many times during Bush's presidency.

I'm of the mind that if a dem does ascend to the presidency when the republicans have control over the Senate, the Republicans should vote down (on the floor) the first batch of Judges that President puts up, making it clear that they indeed are following the rule set by the dems. Then go about the business of doing the right thing, as they have always done

The above hissed in response by: senorlechero [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 31, 2006 9:10 PM

The following hissed in response by: lmg

I'm afraid that if the President nominates another conservative to the High Court, we might see ranking members of the Judiciary Committee in ski masks, threatening to behead the nominee.

The above hissed in response by: lmg [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 1, 2006 4:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: Coriolan

In "Shadow," Bob Woodward wrote that several Senate Democrats were totally disgusted with Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandals, including Robert Byrd, Diane Feinstein, Harry Reid, Russ Feingold, & Joseph Biden. Yet of course they all loyally kept their mouths shut, did not call upon Clinton to resign, and they all voted not to convict him in the impeachment procedings. Only - unsurprisingly - Joe Liebermann spoke out publicly against Clinton's conduct at all, but even he still voted not to convict on impeachment, as did every other Senate Dem.

Just compare the GOP senators during the Watergate hearings - it was Howard Baker who came up with the most devestating line of inquiry, "What did the President know and when did he know it?" GOP Senators were also critical of the Reagan Administration during iran-Contra. But the Dems over the last generation are in completer lockstep.

The above hissed in response by: Coriolan [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 1, 2006 7:43 PM

The following hissed in response by: senorlechero

Dafydd...............now that Paul has responded to your post, I see that you were entirely correct in your reading of his post. He did indeed "predict" that republicans would follow the "Alito Rule".

I of course agree with you that they will not.

The above hissed in response by: senorlechero [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 1, 2006 9:38 PM

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