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First Judge Showdown: Specter asks, "Can we agree to disagree?" Democrats say no.
National Review Online ^ | March 18, 2005 | Byron York

Posted on 03/18/2005 8:45:59 AM PST by xsysmgr

When the Senate Judiciary Committee met in the Russell Building Thursday morning, chairman Arlen Specter didn't see the need to refight the nomination of William Myers to a place on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Myers had already had two hearings before the committee, and everyone knew that the Democrats objected to his record on environmental issues, and everyone knew that the Democrats would vote against him, and everyone knew that the real fight would be on the Senate floor. So when it came time for the committee to vote, Specter asked Democrats to dispense with the long speeches and go straight to a vote.

"Myers is well known," Specter said. "We all know there is going to be a party-line vote in committee, and we all know there is going to be a contest on the floor.... It is my hope that...we could defer the discussion of Myers until the floor."

It was a perfectly fine idea, one that might have helped the committee move a bit more expeditiously through its schedule. But it would have required a certain minimum amount of cooperation from committee Democrats. And if Specter thought he would get that, he was clearly mistaken.

"I do want to help, but I would take a moment on Mr. Myers," said ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy, who then proceeded to take many moments on Myers, restating his oft-made charge that Myers "is the most anti-environment judicial nominee that I have seen in my 31 years here."

Specter listened impatiently. When Leahy finished, Specter said, "Let me repeat my hope that we will proceed to the next item on the agenda...." He then recognized Wisconsin Democrat Russell Feingold, who Specter apparently hoped would move things along but who instead began a long monologue about Myers' "extreme views."

"Will the timekeeper please set the time at five minutes?" Specter asked in frustration. But the chairman knew that clocks mean nothing in the Senate. "Senator Feingold may observe or not observe as he chooses," Specter said somewhat haplessly.

Feingold chose to not observe. The light on the time clock glowed green, then yellow, and then red, as Feingold kept talking. "Mr. Myers remains unfit to serve on the federal bench...."

Specter stared at Feingold, his glasses in hand, with the red light shining. Finally, Feingold asked that the committee give unanimous consent for something to be entered into the record of the meeting — an entirely routine request that is automatically granted. Specter apparently thought Feingold was finishing up.

"Thank you, Senator," Specter said.

"I just asked for unanimous consent that something be entered into the record," Feingold snapped, resuming his statement. "I am not convinced that Mr. Myers will put aside his personal policy views and fairly apply the laws...."

On and on it went, until finally, Feingold came to the conclusion that everyone knew he would reach: "Mr. Chairman, I will vote no."

As Feingold spoke, other senators drifted out of the hearing room, leaving the big table mostly empty. Specter began to fear that the desertions would leave the committee with too few members present to take a vote. "We are about to lose a quorum," he said.

It didn't matter. Next up was New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer.

"Senator Schumer made a 21-minute presentation at the [Myers] hearing," Specter said when recognizing him.

"This one will be a bit shorter, Mr. Chairman," Schumer said.

It was, a bit. Schumer launched into an extended meditation on what he said was the sad state of the judicial nominations process, a process in which his own attempts at comity and accommodation had been met by intransigence on the part of the White House and Senate Republicans. "I am sorry that we are here," Schumer said. "I am saddened that the president felt it necessary to put a thumb in the eye of bipartisanship."

As Schumer went on, the light turned from green to yellow.

"I am most saddened because in April, when we return [from Easter recess], the Myers nomination is likely to be used as the trigger to institute the nuclear option, a wrong of far greater consequence than the up-or-down vote on any nomination."

The light turned from yellow to red.

"I am particularly saddened that the president keeps recycling nominees like William Myers," Schumer continued. "In this case, it turns out that recycling is actually bad for the environment."

After each attack, Specter made a brief defense of Myers — the case had been made before and would be made again on the Senate floor — and tried to move on. Finally, Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn spoke up. Maybe we should be fighting back, he said. "I always remember the political axiom that an attack not responded to is an attack believed." But instead of launching into a full-scale defense of Myers, Cornyn said it was not the time to get into the details of the case and urged that the meeting move on.

At that point, Specter got a little help from California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who said, "I'd really like to associate myself with the comments of Senators Feingold and Schumer" but chose to not actually repeat the comments of Senators Feingold and Schumer. Instead, Feinstein went along with Specter's wishes and made just a brief anti-Myers statement.

"May we proceed now to the vote on Mr. Myers?" asked Specter.

Finally, no one objected. And, as Specter had said at the beginning of the meeting, the vote was precisely along party lines. The Myers nomination was approved, 10 to 8, and sent to the full Senate. There, it will be up to Majority Leader Bill Frist to decide when to bring it up for a vote — a move that will lead to a renewed Democratic filibuster of Myers and, then, possibly, set the stage for Republicans to try what is variously known as the nuclear, or constitutional, or Byrd, option, that is, ending the judicial filibuster with a simple majority vote.

After the hearing, Specter was asked whether he is "as fearful as Sen. Schumer that the nuclear option will be triggered shortly?"

"No, no," Specter said. "I think the rhetoric is misplaced. I think that the rhetoric on both sides ought to be toned down and we ought to go ahead with the confirmation process. We've seen a lot of gridlock in the Congress, and we know that the American people are sick and tired of gridlock, and especially on judges.... What I think we ought to do is to work through the confirmation process."

It was a nice thought. But the meeting that preceded Specter's remarks offered no evidence that Democrats intended to go along. Instead, it seemed one more step toward what increasingly appears to be an inevitable confrontation.



TOPICS: Government
KEYWORDS: byronyork; feingold; judicialnominees; leahy; obstructionistdems; schumer; specter; ussenate; williammyers

1 posted on 03/18/2005 8:46:00 AM PST by xsysmgr
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To: xsysmgr

SOS


2 posted on 03/18/2005 8:50:08 AM PST by Jerry Attrick (<B>)
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To: xsysmgr

SOS


3 posted on 03/18/2005 8:50:31 AM PST by Jerry Attrick (<B>)
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To: xsysmgr
an inevitable confrontation.

Yep. Nuke 'em now.

4 posted on 03/18/2005 8:50:54 AM PST by clee1 (We use 43 muscles to frown, 17 to smile, and 2 to pull a trigger. I'm lazy and I'm tired of smiling.)
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To: xsysmgr
Specter = P.T. Barnum
Senate = Circus
5 posted on 03/18/2005 8:52:22 AM PST by marvlus
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To: xsysmgr; section9; Common Tator; Poohbah; Howlin; Miss Marple; PhiKapMom; Dog
Y'know... in a way, having Specter as the Judiciary Committee Chairman may be a benefit. Unlike Hatch, he is not seen as a hardliner on judicial nominations, and in fact is seen as a moderate.

I suspect it will not be Frist who makes the motion to go nuclear. Frist is seen as the President's man in the Senate. It will be too easy for the Rats to paint this as Dubya's bidding.

But if Arlen Specter is the one who raises the "point of order" on the judicial nominations, that changes the whole ball game. Specter is seen as the maverick, the moderate, the person who tries to build the bridges. It is harder to attack him as the Nazi than it would be to attack Frist as the Nazi.

6 posted on 03/18/2005 8:52:52 AM PST by hchutch ("But, Rally, they're SMOKE GRENADES.")
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To: xsysmgr

Once again. This nonsense could be ended if even one senator denied unanimous consent. Cut with the civility and get things done. It was always ok for LBJ to strongarm things through the senate but the illustrious senator from Pennsylvania must be duly conciliatory.


7 posted on 03/18/2005 8:52:56 AM PST by cotton1706
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To: xsysmgr

When are rinos going to learn..you cannot deal or rationalize with these people..you have to be tough or they will walk all over you with their lies and arrogance..sigh..I am glad Scottish Law spector had to sit and be ignored and impugned..he likes to take it from the demos..


8 posted on 03/18/2005 8:53:02 AM PST by BerniesFriend
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To: clee1

At least the Democrats are willing to fight to the bitter end for something, even if it is dead wrong. The Republicans, on the other hand, are so afraid of offending anyone that they are rendered impotent, making for the tall grass at the mere thought of confrontation. They sicken me...


9 posted on 03/18/2005 8:55:09 AM PST by Russ
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To: xsysmgr
The Dems have painted themselves into a corner. If they don't agree Senate Rule XXII will be modified. The Dems can then disagree all they want but all Senate business, with the exception of the supermajorities specified in the Constitution, will be decided on a 51-49 majority or by the VP casting a tiebreaker vote when the Senate is deadlocked at 50-50.
10 posted on 03/18/2005 8:57:10 AM PST by hflynn
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To: xsysmgr

Once again the Democrats prove that they are just a waste of space, time and money. If anyone wonders why nothing ever seems to get done, and why government moves along at sub-snail pace, here is your answer.
Clinton had 8 years in office, now you know why nothing, except blunders got done.


11 posted on 03/18/2005 8:57:50 AM PST by Nuzcruizer
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To: xsysmgr
The Democrats have the Republicans the riot act: No conservative will be confirmed if they have anything to do about it. After all those scalawag right-wingers are out of the mainstream. Sorry - GOP'ers... we'll accept only extreme Leftists and quite possibly RINOs. NO CONSERVATIVE WILL EVER BE A FEDERAL JUDGE ON OUR WATCH. They made that crystal-clear.

(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
12 posted on 03/18/2005 8:59:09 AM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: xsysmgr
and we know that the American people are sick and tired of gridlock...

Well that's just too bad. I ain't goin' nowhere...

13 posted on 03/18/2005 8:59:48 AM PST by gridlock (ELIMINATE PERVERSE INCENTIVES)
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To: Russ
The Republicans, on the other hand, are so afraid of offending anyone that they are rendered impotent, making for the tall grass at the mere thought of confrontation.

No, as usual, they are trying to be above the fray and do things the honorable way. How many times have we seen FReepers say, "We don't want to become like the." They are trying to conduct business as it should be done, as they have always done it. Unfortunately, the Dems are just like terrorists. You can't fight by the Geneva Convention rules when the enemy not only doesn't follow them but uses them against you. The Republicans should rub their faces it it and say, "We will face the consequences when they come." rather than anticipate them. You can bet your boots that the Dems will show no mercy now nor in the future.

14 posted on 03/18/2005 9:03:46 AM PST by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all things that need to be done need to be done by the government.)
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To: Mind-numbed Robot
That's an excellant point (Democrats are like terrorists)

That's a great way to descibe the Democrats in the House and Senate. Legislative Terrorists!!

15 posted on 03/18/2005 9:10:48 AM PST by Russ
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To: hchutch

Earlier this month Harry Reid viciously attacked Alan Greenspan, a man whom I never thought would be treated this way by the Senate minority leader.

These democrats are fighting for their very existence (like a wounded animal) and will attack anyone who they see fit.

The Dems will attack Spectre and rip him apart without batting an eye. I would be surprised if they didn't rip Spectre.


16 posted on 03/18/2005 9:11:48 AM PST by wrathof59 ("to the Everlasting Glory of the Infantry".........Robert A Heinlein)
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To: xsysmgr

Dems are soooooo creepy.


17 posted on 03/18/2005 9:12:54 AM PST by GOPJ (Liberals haven't had a new idea in 40 years.)
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To: wrathof59

They will attack Specter, but he has more time to recover. He's also more sympathetic (see his cancer).

If Specter does it, I think we could hold the Senators from Maine. That could be the difference in upholding Cheney's ruling and having it overturned.


18 posted on 03/18/2005 9:13:45 AM PST by hchutch ("But, Rally, they're SMOKE GRENADES.")
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To: xsysmgr

Here we are, getting our noses rubbed in the dirt. When will the Republicans learn that the CRATS are ignorant and need to be quashed.


19 posted on 03/18/2005 9:14:32 AM PST by Logical me (Oh, well!!!)
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To: hchutch

your point is well taken


20 posted on 03/18/2005 9:14:55 AM PST by wrathof59 ("to the Everlasting Glory of the Infantry".........Robert A Heinlein)
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To: hchutch

I'm a PA voter and I just sent a letter to Sen. Specter. Here's hoping he'll listen.


21 posted on 03/18/2005 9:15:48 AM PST by zook
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To: wrathof59

Arlen Specter chairing the judiciary committee is like bringing a pocket knife to a gunfight. When Specter got thru his rough patch right after the election and got his chaimanship, the democrats were assured the lay of the land. The time to go nuclear was over putting Specter in the chairmanship. That would have made the point to the democrats loud and clear.


22 posted on 03/18/2005 9:20:59 AM PST by blackdog (Lord of Woop Woop)
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To: hchutch
But if Arlen Specter is the one who raises the "point of order" on the judicial nominations, that changes the whole ball game. Specter is seen as the maverick, the moderate, the person who tries to build the bridges. It is harder to attack him as the Nazi than it would be to attack Frist as the Nazi.

Wonder what the my-way-or-no-f***ing-way folks who want to throw out Santorum will say then.

23 posted on 03/18/2005 9:27:52 AM PST by Poohbah ("Hee Haw" was supposed to be a television show, not a political movement.)
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To: xsysmgr
Great article by Byron.
With W renominating fillibustered nominees, John Bolton to the UN and Wolfie to the World Bank, successes in Iraq, Lebannon, etc. - the Dems have more fires popping up than they can handle.
Watch 'em twitch and squirm - they are confused and demoralized by W's political Blitzkrieg. "Brilliant".
24 posted on 03/18/2005 9:42:23 AM PST by Psalm 73 ("Gentlemen, you can't fight in here - this is the War Room".)
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To: xsysmgr

So what was Benedict Arlen expecting? Senate demoKaRatz are a bunch of scum sucking maggots.


25 posted on 03/18/2005 9:48:13 AM PST by Al Gator
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To: hchutch
Y'know... in a way, having Specter as the Judiciary Committee Chairman may be a benefit. Unlike Hatch, he is not seen as a hardliner on judicial nominations, and in fact is seen as a moderate. I suspect it will not be Frist who makes the motion to go nuclear. Frist is seen as the President's man in the Senate. It will be too easy for the Rats to paint this as Dubya's bidding. But if Arlen Specter is the one who raises the "point of order" on the judicial nominations, that changes the whole ball game. Specter is seen as the maverick, the moderate, the person who tries to build the bridges. It is harder to attack him as the Nazi than it would be to attack Frist as the Nazi.

Perhaps, but that assumes that Lucy will finally hold the football until Charlie Brown kicks it.

26 posted on 03/18/2005 9:55:35 AM PST by Diddle E. Squat
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To: marvlus
Specter = P.T. Barnum
Senate = Circus
Us = suckers born every minute. 

27 posted on 03/18/2005 9:59:01 AM PST by fish hawk (The best thing about the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" is : it is Vast and it is Right Wing.)
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To: xsysmgr

Push the button for the people's sake!


28 posted on 03/18/2005 10:02:48 AM PST by Danae (Liberalism is a mental disorder.)
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To: xsysmgr

Both sides have their "go nuclear" options, I think that it's better to give a little on this and find some compromise candidates.


29 posted on 03/18/2005 10:10:12 AM PST by Zeroisanumber
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To: xsysmgr

I am contemptuous of all attempts to cater to leftists that despise us all, and barring an act of God always will.

If Specter thought he would get cooperation from the radical left on the committee, I hesitate to ask where he has been for the last twenty five years.


30 posted on 03/18/2005 5:23:32 PM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: hchutch

That is an excellent point. Yet I have my doubts as to whether Arlen Specter would be willing to compromise his precious reputation as a "reasonable" Republicna in the Senate to confirm a set of judges that he doesn't like anyway.

The fateful decision was made a year ago, when the PResident and Senator Santorum barnstormed Pennsylvania to re-elect Specter in the primary. He would not have won otherwise. As it stood, with total establishment support and a popular President by his side, he barely squeaked by.


31 posted on 03/18/2005 5:25:55 PM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: hchutch

You make a brilliant point. If Specter brings up the nuclear option, it's over. And he might. One thing that everybody should know is that you don't piss off Arlen Specter.


32 posted on 03/28/2005 6:01:38 AM PST by AmishDude (The Clown Prince-in-a-can of Free Republic!)
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To: Zack Nguyen
If Specter thought he would get cooperation from the radical left on the committee, I hesitate to ask where he has been for the last twenty five years.

Arlen Specter is no political naïf. He knows exactly what will happen. He asked the Democrats very very nicely to behave and they flipped him the bird. Specter will get his revenge, make no mistake. He may not care about the GOP, but he cares about himself and his reputation.

33 posted on 03/28/2005 6:08:25 AM PST by AmishDude (The Clown Prince-in-a-can of Free Republic!)
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To: hchutch
But if Arlen Specter is the one who raises the "point of order" on the judicial nominations, that changes the whole ball game.

Mother Teresa could come back from the dead to raise the point of order and the democrats would demonize her.

34 posted on 03/28/2005 6:20:44 AM PST by Raycpa
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To: AmishDude

It's probably the only shot we have to hold 51 votes to uphold the point of order.


35 posted on 03/28/2005 7:49:08 AM PST by hchutch ("But, Rally, they're SMOKE GRENADES.")
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To: hchutch

I don't know about that. But I love how the Democrats, for no other reason than to feed their own ego, decided to mock Specter. I wonder if the GOP got more concessions from Specter than that one speech.


36 posted on 03/28/2005 7:55:01 AM PST by AmishDude (The Clown Prince-in-a-can of Free Republic!)
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