Mike over at Mike’s America has an excellent post up about the filibuster deal:
Now that the cabal of seven Republicans and seven Democrats have finished with their 48 hour backslapping and self-congratulatory marathon, the dust is beginning to settle on the “Memorandum of Understanding of Understanding on Judicial Nominations” (signed copy of the document here). It’s perhaps a good time to take a closer look at the deal and it’s implications for the future.
This “deal” will make it more difficult for Democrats to filibuster. It also pretty much greases the skids for confirmation of some very fine judges: Owen, Brown and Pryor. Democrats allowing that to occur after basically calling these three every name in the book exposes their transparent political hypocrisy.
So if this isn’t such a bad deal and it’s all been a bunch of bellyaching from rightwingers who wanted Reid to glow a uranium mine in Nevada, then why all the confusion about the deal? First of all, the Senators like my own Lindsey Graham, must have known that handling an issue this radioactive would have some fallout. Their attempt to explain it has been lame and confusing; perhaps because they seemed to be spending all that time instead by congratulating each other.
Second, the deal says that Dems will not filibuster Ownen, Brown and Pryor. The assumption is (though no one really knows) that the remaining nominees Saad and Meyers could be filibustered.
And that brings us to the ugly part of this deal. The Constitution of the United States is pretty clear as it relates to the powers of the President to appoint judges and the Senates role in confirming them:
[H]e shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States.
In the deal, Senators define that phrase this way:
We believe that, under Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, the word “Advice” speaks to consultation between the Senate and the President with regard to the use of the President’s power to make nominations. We encourage the Executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration.
Again we’re down to defining words like “extraordinary” or “advice.” But the Constitution locks in a process here…the President “shall nominate” is FOLLOWED by the “advice and consent of the Senate.” What the deal suggests is that the President should consult the Senate BEFORE making a nomination.
Anyone who doesn’t see that as an unconstitutional power grab by one branch encroaching on the constitutional authority of the other is probably not going to have a hard time finding “extraordinary circumstances” to oppose a nominee.
With all the high talk of compromise and “let’s all get along” this constitutional revisionism STINKS! The Senate has a long and sorry history of interfering with the constitutional role of the Executive branch. A good size chunk of the members in that body think they could do a better job than the President, even though most of them couldn’t get elected dogcatcher outside of the comfort of their home-state’s political machine.
The last bit of good news in this shabby deal is that the President is perfectly free to totally ignore this suggestion by the gang of fourteen. It has no weight in law whatsoever. As for the rest of the deal: only time will tell.
Third, the seven Democrat signatories promise not to filibuster, or presumably permit a filibuster from their fellow Democrats on future nominations. The seven Republicans also promise not to use the nuclear, or more correctly the “Bryd” option, thus named because Senator Byrd used this exact same tactic when he was Majority Leader.
The seven Democrats who signed onto this deal are not from the rabid wing of the Democrat Party, even though the former Klansmen Byrd was very involved in recent coordination with the tie-dyed hippie freak, tree worshiping neo-socialist out to impose their views on the rest of us organization: Moveon.org.
So the HOPE is that the understanding of “extraordinary circumstances” would not be abused in the same way that Democrats with a greater reality challenged perspective have struggled with such concepts as the meaning of the word ‘is.’
Much more at his site, go check it out.
My take on this deal is that the Republicans caved, plain and simple. “extraordinary circumstances”? Give me an effin break. The Dem’s will break this deal and I only hope the Republicans grow some balls and dont back down again.