The left is fear-mongering on the issue of the filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed cloture on 17 nominees today and the left was quick to parrot the Reid talking points claiming Republican “obstruction” of these nominees. The fact of the matter is that there is no filibuster and Reid is merely setting the table so he can make hysterical arguments about Republican obstructionism.
Republicans, nor Democrats, have uttered one word of debate on any of these nominations. There is no filibuster going on right now and there never was. This is a fake filibuster created by Reid.
A filibuster is when a Senator takes to the floor to speak without allowing a final vote on a nominee or legislation. After a period of debate, the leader files a motion to shut off debate and then there is a vote on ending a filibuster. That is not happening in this circumstance. What is happening is that Senator Reid is invoking the Senate rules to shut down a non-existent filibuster for purely political purposes.
Think Progress argues that Reid needs to file cloture on seventeen nominees to “break a filibuster.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced this afternoon that he will file cloture — the Senate procedure to break a filibuster — on seventeen judicial nominees currently being blocked by Republican obstructionism. Nearly all of these nominees were either unanimously approved in the Senate Judiciary Committee or were approved with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) as the only objection. Lee, of course, promised to block all of President Obama’s nominees and he also believes that Medicare and Social Security are unconstitutional.
First of all, these nominees were never blocked by any obstructionism. They were never debated. There has not been one word of debate on the Senate floor. Furthermore, if many Republicans voted for the bulk of these nominees in the Senate Judiciary Committee, it is likely that they will pass pretty easily. Reid is trying to break the back of Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) for objecting to President Obama’s unconstitutional recess appointments.
Reid today filed cloture on the following nominees to the federal courts:
- Gina M. Groh to be U.S. District Judge for the N. District of West Virginia;
- David Nuffer to be U.S. District Judge for Utah;
- Michael W. Fitzgerald to be U.S. District Judge for the Cent. District of California;
- Ronnie Abrams to be U.S. District Judge for the S. District of New York;
- Rudolph Contreras to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia;
- Miranda Du to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Nevada;
- Susie Morgan to be U.S. District Judge for the E. District of Louisiana;
- Gregg J. Costa to be U.S. District Judge for the S. District of Texas;
- David C. Guaderrama to be U.S. District Judge for the W. District of Texas;
- Brian C. Wimes to be U.S. District Judge for the E. and W. Districts of Missouri;
- Kristine G. Baker to be U.S. District Judge for the E. District of Arkansas;
- John Z. Lee to be U.S. District Judge for the N. District of Illinois;
- George L. Russell to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Maryland;
- John J. Tharp to be U.S. District Judge for the N. District of Illinois;
- Jeffrey J. Helmick to be U.S. District Judge for the N. District of Ohio;
- Mary G. Lewis to be U.S. District Judge for the District of South Carolina; and,
- Timothy S. Hillman to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Massachusetts.
This is a bold attempt to circumvent the constitutional requirement that the Senate “consent” to nominees pursuant to Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution. The executive branch, in alliance with members of the same party in the Senate, can’t merely ignore the requirement in the constitution allowing the Senate to make its own rules (Article I, Sec. 5), then follow Rule 22 of the Senate’s rules that establishes a procedure to vote on nominees.
What Reid wants to do is to toss out the Senate’s rules and steamroll the above referenced seventeen nominees through the Senate to prove a point and to create a talking point that Republicans are obstructionists. Thankfully, the American people will see through the rhetoric. There is no filibuster going on, yet Reid may have caused one by virtue of the fact that he is trying to bully Republicans into rubber stamping these nominees.
It is important to note that the filibuster is essential for democracy and protected Americans from an even more intrusive and unpopular version of ObamaCare.
The filibuster is essential for democracy, because it protects Americans from a tyranny of the majority, whether that majority be Democrats or Republicans. Right now, liberals are angry at Congress because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was not allowed to steamroll the minority party, and moderates within his own caucus, to pass a version of ObamaCare with a public option. The left wants to exterminate the only remaining tool for individual members of the Senate to slow down legislation.
Now Reid is trying to steamroll Mike Lee, who is merely using his right as one Senator to force the Senate to follow it’s own rules. There is no filibuster going on yet, but the Democrats are assuming a filibuster by pre-emptively filing for cloture on a swath of nominees that may require some debate and some study before Senators “consent” to them all getting lifetime appointments to the federal courts.
It should not be forgotten that the Center for American Progress (CAP) supported the filibuster when it served their purposes. In a post tiled “The Nuclear Option” CAP wrote “the filibuster is one of the only ways to encourage genuine bipartisan cooperation and compromise on important issues that come before the Senate.”
CAP hosted a conference titled, Going Nuclear – The Threat to our System of Checks and Balances on April 25, 2005. John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, argued that the filibuster protected “deliberation and mutual respect.”
By removing the safeguard offered by the filibuster, the nuclear option would seriously and perhaps irreparably damage an institution that has functioned since the its inception under customs and traditions that ensure an atmosphere of careful deliberation and mutual respect. Ultimately, this is not a dispute between the left and the right. It is a matter of right and wrong. It’s a choice between safeguarding our system of checks and balances or destabilizing it; between upholding the Senate’s coequal role in the confirmation progress or diminishing it.
Hopefully Senator Reid and CAP are not setting the table for the same “Nuclear Option” they opposed back in 2005.