Mitch gets the prize, (and his own Free Republic thread), for most effectively expressing the anger we all felt upon hearing the news of the compromise. There was a collective shout of NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
I've had a little more time to get my blood pressure back under control. So, I asked myself......
Do you trust these Republicans:
And these Democrats?
Ken Salazar (CO), Ben Nelson (NE), Mary Landrieu (LA), Joseph Lieberman (CT), Mark Pryor (AR), Robert Byrd (WV) and Daniel Inouye (HI)
To decide who gets an up or down vote? To decide who gets nominated to the Supreme Court?
Consider this. In my mind, there are two parts to every contract. The first is the actual words on the paper. The words on the document are what you take to court if there's a disagreement. It's just my opinion, but most contracts have a way out. This particular document leaves wiggle room for everyone.
One aspect that should bother anyone concerned with following the Constitution is the text that encourages President Bush to consult with the Compromised 14 prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate. This clause alone, makes it clear that this is a blatant power grab by the moderates. In the press conference, they were so proud of themselves I was afraid someone would dislocate an arm patting themselves on the back.
The next troubling bit is the fact that everyone has the choice to filibuster future nominations for extraordinary circumstances based on "his or her own discretion." Seems to me this doesn't change anything. Everyone has always had this option. Then we get to the Republican side of the agreement:
B. Rules Changes. In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment to or interpretation of the Rules of the Senate that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or Rule XXII.
It may be presumptuous for me, a mere citizen, to disagree with practicing lawyers, but it's our blog so what the heck! The key phrase here that I think the Powerline boys overlooked is, "In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement..." The Republicans are only agreeing to forgo the nuclear option if the Dems keep their side of the equation and don't filibuster qualified nominees. Lindsey Graham made that clear that they retained the option to go nuclear in the press conference. It's also notable that Lieberman states this wording was the last to be agreed upon:
Lieberman said one of the last changes, besides a typo, was the declaration that "in light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement," the senators would oppose any rules change in this two-year Congress that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by a new procedure. "We all wanted it to be positive," he said. "The other versions had stressed a negative, or were too conditional. . . . Interest groups on both sides won't be happy.
The second part of the contract, and it can be even more important than what's written down, is the spirit of the agreement. This is made up of all the discussions and agreements that don't make it onto the paper. It's really helpful if both parties leave the room with the same understanding of the "spirit" of their agreement.
Sometimes that doesn't happen.
What we can be sure of, is that these 14 Senators didn't spend the last week in a conference room, only to come up with the words they've released. Who is going to do what was discussed in detail. It's just not spelled out for us to read.
What this whole deal comes down to is trust that the Compromised 14 will follow through on the parts of the deal we don't know yet. If you were listening, you heard that word a lot in the press conference. From the quotes section here:
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona "This agreement is meant in the finest traditions of the Senate ... trust, respect and mutual desire to see the institution of the Senate function in ways that protect the rights of the minority."
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine
"You're going to hear over and over again the words 'good faith,' 'mutual respect' and 'trust' because those words characterized our negotiations.
So in order to know how bad or good this deal is for either side, we'll need to read between the lines, or follow the rumor mill. So far, it's not looking good.
According to a Kevin Drum commenter, Lindsey Graham said on MSNBC: "some will be confirmed, some won't, dirty little secret is that there is some of these nominees that will not get republican votes.......there will be at least one in the group that will probably fail on a bipartisan basis"
Here's a list of the judges and their backgrounds.
Bench Memos reports that Reid says Saad won't be approved, and Myers will be filibustered. They also point us to this in the New York Times: Democratic officials said an unwritten aspect of the pact was that two nominees not named in the deal - Brett M. Kavanaugh and William J. Haynes - would not be confirmed and would be turned aside either at the committee level or on the floor.
That's four nominations rumored to be blocked.
Two more that are up in the air. The Washington Post reports on Griffin and McKeague: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he now expected both to be confirmed. (Add Neilson according the to AP.)
It's a given that Owen, Brown, and Pryor will get a vote. If we add Griffin and McKeague, that would be
5 make that 6 that get an up or down vote (after adding Neilson).
Based on early reports, this is my guess for the back room deal that was made. The Dems block 4. The Republicans get
5 six. No future filibusters for ideology or the seven Republicans go nuclear with Frist. Think about it. Doesn't it seem so middle of the road "fair" this way? (I sincerely hope I'm wrong.)
Is it worth it to preserve the filibuster for the future? I've been a proponent of the nuclear option for a long time, mostly because I believe the Democrats would do the same to us in a heartbeat. There would be no long drawn out debate or navel gazing. The time to act is now, because frankly, only the activists care about this issue as long as we're only talking about Circuit Courts. Also, the Republicans have campaigned on judges in 2000, 2002, and 2004. We're getting mighty tired out here of getting nowhere with Republicans in control of the House, Senate, and Executive branch.
My guess is that the filibuster fight has just been delayed. It will rear its ugly head if it comes to changing the balance of the SCOTUS. Replacing Rhenquist with another conservative won't be a problem. But when we get deeper into the court the Democrats cannot let the numbers shift to the conservative side. There will be shouts of Extraordinary Circumstances! just in time for the intense media spotlight of a Supreme Court nominee. Then we will see that the seven Republicans who made this deal today have done tremendous damage to conservatives for a very, very long time.
For more reaction:
Captain Ed refines his Not One Dime pledge.
Kennedy vs. the Machine goes nuclear.
Doug chimes in with Peace In Our Time
Triple A is reminded of all the issues the base has been overlooking.
Nihilist gives us the Top 11 things the Republicans Get in Exchange for Surrendering Judges.
Michelle's round up includes a "maverick" watch.
PoliPundit, (via Kennedy vs. the Machine), calls it submission of the minority to the majority.
Professor Bainbridge thinks conservatives aren't considering the long term advantage of the compromise.
Update: Corrected the math after including Neilson.