May 3, 2006

Reid Returns to Judicial Filibusters... Is the Gang All Here?

Hatched by Dafydd

Out of the night, when the full moon is bright... is that Zorro riding up?

Nope; it's the aptly named Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace), popping up like Whack-a-Mole to issue a promise to filibuster 4th-Circuit nominee Judge Terrence W. Boyle and possibly also D.C.-Circuit nominee Brett Kavanaugh:

Democratic leaders said they certainly would filibuster one of the nominees, Terrence W. Boyle, and might filibuster the second, Brett Kavanaugh, if Republicans refuse to call him back for a second hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The partisan rhetoric was the strongest signal yet that the Senate might revisit the brinkmanship that brought the chamber to the edge of crisis a year ago, when a bipartisan group of 14 members crafted a temporary cease-fire....

"I can't imagine how President Bush could bring [Boyle] to the Senate for confirmation," Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters yesterday. If GOP leaders insist on a confirmation vote, he said, Democrats "without question" will launch a filibuster....

Reid said Kavanaugh is subject to "a possible filibuster" in the full Senate.

This comes just a day after Sen. Reid essentially demanded that Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) give Reid veto power over any Republican conferees that Frist names to the House-Senate conference on an immigration bill, should the Senate pass such:

As important as the number of amendments is what happens in Conference.

With Republicans in the House having passed a bill making all undocumented immigrants felons, with the House majority leader publicly dismissing the Senate’s bill, and with the House Judiciary Committee Chairman serving as the sponsor of the felon provision in the House legislation, it is imperative we have a firm agreement on who the conference participants will be before moving to the bill.

Reid's sudden imperiousness raises an interesting question: is Sen. Harry Reid just "rolling the dice," or does he have solid intelligence that the Democrats will win the vote on the "constitutional option" rules change in the Senate -- and does Reid already know who will win the battle over who gets to name Republican conferees? Have GOP members of the "Gang of 14" signalled to Harry Reid that they're ready to cave? (The only remaining option -- that Reid would initiate such tactics knowing he was going to lose -- is politically absurd.)

I certainly hope Reid is just throwing a "Hail Mary" two seconds before the buzzer.

The Democrats' objection to Judge Boyle at least has merit; whether it's true or not is a separate question. The WaPo article doesn't go into detail; but an AP story yesterday gives a bit more depth:

Kavanaugh's negatives, Reid added, "pale in comparison to Boyle.'' Reid said he had read in an online article that Boyle had bought stock in General Electric midway through presiding over a pension lawsuit against the company. Then Boyle ruled against the plaintiff's claims of long-term and pension disability benefits.

"He not only shouldn't be a trial court judge as he is, but to think that he should be elevated to a circuit court of appeals is outrageous,'' Reid said.

Aha: Reid accuses Judge Boyle of corruption because he read it on the internet! (Possibly on Juan Cole or Daily Kos.)

If it were true that a sitting federal judge were ruling on cases in order to inflate the value of his own stock portfolio -- which is precisely what Harry Reid has accused Boyle of doing -- then of course, that judge should not only not be elevated to the circus court, he should be impeached, indicted, tried, and convicted. But contrariwise, if a sitting senator -- the minority leader of the Senate -- is slandering a federal judge with outrageous and unsupported criminal accusations purely to gain a partisan advantage in the confirmation vote... then it is that senator who should be expelled from the Senate in disgrace.

Majority Leader Frist should demand that Sen. Reid produce evidence for his charge (something more than a story on Salon or on some blog); and if he has none, call a press conference to demand that Reid resign his seat.

The opposition to Brett Kavanaugh, by contrast, is simply risible:

First nomination up is Kavanaugh's, which could be reported out of the Judiciary Committee by a party line vote as early as Thursday. Democrats, however, are pressing for another hearing and more documents in an effort to find out whether Kavanaugh was involved in White House policies on torture, the National Security Agency's wiretapping program and Bush's relationship with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Got that? The Democrats admit they have no information whatsoever to indicate Kavanaugh was involved in crafting any of the policies they dislike -- such as vigorously questioning al-Qaeda military leaders captured on the battlefield during wartime without giving them lawyers and setting bail. They haven't a clue... the Democrats brazenly admit that this is nothing but a fishing expedition (let's see whether he was involved!) and a chance to revisit those policies and rail against President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

For his part, Kavanaugh told Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Thursday that he did not play an active role in Bush's secret domestic wiretapping program or in any dealings with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Schumer said he did not ask Kavanaugh about his role in the torture policy. But White House spokeswoman Perino said, "Mr. Kavanaugh was not involved in any detainee policy development.''

And on that flimsy pretext, Sen. Reid promises a return to judicial filibusters.

In a post last year, Big Lizards noted:

The "Seven Dwarfs" (Republican members of the "Gang of 14") are John McCain (AZ), Mike DeWine (OH), Lindsay Graham (SC), John Warner (VA), Olympia Snowe (ME), Susan Collins (ME), and Lincoln Chafee (RI). Two others not in the Gang but still potentially trouble are Arlen Specter (PA) and Charles Grassley (IA).

At this point, Sen. Frist must speak individually, one-on-one with each Republican on this list to determine whether he or she is still willing -- as they all were a year ago -- to vote for the constitutional option (changing Senate rules to ban judicial filibusters) if the Democrats return to such tactics in the absence of "extraordinary circumstances." And Frist should also ask whether any of them considers the Democrats' charge that Brett Kavanaugh was a member of President Bush's staff to be "extraordinary circumstances."

Similarly, do the Seven Dwarfs (plus two) agree with Harry Reid that a bald accusation of corruption in the absence of a shred of evidence is enough to rise to the level of "extraordinary circumstances?"

It's hard to imagine that GOP senators, even these ones, would look the majority leader right in the eye -- and lie through their teeth. But let's find out.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 3, 2006, at the time of 2:38 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Wave Maker

"is slandering a federal judge with outrageous and unsupported criminal accusations purely to gain a partisan advantage in the confirmation vote... then it is that senator who should be expelled from the Senate in disgrace."

Ohhhhhhh you've got that right, you Big Slippery Scaly Thing!

I feel my saliva glands activating.

This really is a reckless move by Reid.

The above hissed in response by: Wave Maker [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 3, 2006 4:06 PM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

The democrats are working hard to help the GOP back into contention!

OT, but Harry Reid as a "whack-a-mole"....Now, there's an image!

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 3, 2006 4:45 PM

The following hissed in response by: Steven Den Beste

The Democrats have demonstrated quite strongly that they no longer take the long view of pretty much anything. They're living day to day, or election to election.

If Reid thinks (no matter why) that there's a good chance that the Democrats will regain control of the Senate in 2006, then he might actually welcome the "nuclear option". It would actually be rather nice for the Republicans to kill the filibuster just before handing control back to the Democrats in the Senate, don't you think? Especially if your horizon is less than a year and you don't ever think about anything further in the future than that?

The above hissed in response by: Steven Den Beste [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 3, 2006 6:56 PM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

Slimy Harry's track record in this is pretty poor. I don't think he is going to succeed this time, unless the Repubicans let him.
If they do fail in this, I thinkthe wack jobbase of the DuNCe party will be more disraught than the Conservatives are these days.
Specter had best hold fast and true on this.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 5, 2006 8:20 PM

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