Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The New Civil War...

Recently 7 Centrist-Republican Senators betrayed their conservative backers by compromising on the issue of filibuster on judicial nominees. I believe the betrayal may just be a disguised attempt by Republican Senators to set the stage for the "Big Dogs".

It is true that the cards were in the hands of the GOP and they had the opportunity to kick the Democrats when they were down…but they didn't. Does anyone actually buy the theory that the Republicans "handed over" what would have been almost certain victory to the Democrats as a sign of good faith and mutual compromise??? Don't be so gullible my friends. By dropping the nuclear option and bringing through only three of President Bush's judicial nominees…the GOP has put themselves in a spot to win the "war" by surrenduring a "battle".

Don't kid yourselves…this was only a truce, NOT a treaty. It is a cleverly disguised truce on the part of the Republicans. While the Democrats are off touting victory…they fail to realize that they are only delaying the inevitable. With the looming retirement of Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, President Bush will have the opportunity to appoint a nominee for the "ultimate" position…the grand daddy of them all…THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES. This appointment could come as soon as the next couple of months, with the possiblility of two or three other openings during Bush's second term in office.

Like the calm before the storm, this truce is just a rallying point for conservatives…THIS BATTLE IS JUST HEATING UP!!! The Democrats are now in a position where they will have to publicly renege on their compromise or watch the whole "war" slip away from them. And that's what this is folks…A War…A CIVIL WAR…A WAR FOR CIVIL RIGHTS!!! This is the opportunity conservatives have been waiting for. They have never been so close to restoring order to the judicial branch of government and overturning activist decisions like "Roe vs. Wade" or the gay marriage debate looming in nearly every state.

With the recent "betrayal" by 7 Republican Senators…the conservatives are rallying like never before! Meanwhile…the Democrats have let their guard down…claiming victory in the face of defeat. Can the stage be set any clearer?

These were my initial reactions to the report of a truce between Centrist Senators on the Filibuster debate. The more I read on the subject…it seems my theory is right on. Need proof…read on...

Conservatives, angered by compromise, vow retribution at the polls

By Mike Glover
11:56 p.m. May 24, 2005

DES MOINES, Iowa – Conservatives who had warned Republicans about compromising on President Bush's judicial nominees delivered another message the day after the deal: Those who betrayed us will pay a political price.

Furious with the outcome, conservative leaders promised to energize their rank-and-file for the next elections while warning some of the centrist Republicans who harbor presidential aspirations to forget about 2008.

"A complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans," said James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based conservative Christian group, who promised that voters will remember "both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust."

The talk of retribution was particularly keen in Iowa, where the state's precinct caucuses launch the presidential nomination process and can make or break White House hopefuls.

"They won't get any help from us – none," Norman Pawlewski of the Iowa Christian Coalition said of the seven Republicans who helped negotiate the compromise. "We busted our hump to get a president who would appoint judges who would be more just. Republican senators betrayed us."

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said, "There will be repercussions."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., a possible presidential candidate in 2008, was under intense pressure to ensure that each of Bush's nominees received an up-or-down vote. Conservatives made it clear that anything less was unacceptable.

While Dobson credited Frist for "courageously fighting to defend the vital principle of basic fairness," other conservatives weren't as forgiving.

"He let them do this," Pawlewski said. "He's the leader of the Senate. If he is so weak ... he can't control his own troops, then he's not much of a leader."

In Iowa, conservatives had issued a "Dear Potential Presidential Candidates" letter in advance, warning that "our organizations will continue to keep our statewide memberships fully informed and educated on how each of the presidential candidates in the Senate stood on this important issue."

Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Center said: "This is the number one issue. Short of a nuclear war, it's the major issue. It's not an issue, it's the issue."

Social and religious conservatives play a critical role in the Iowa caucuses, in part because of the relatively low turnout. Typically, slightly more than 100,000 activists show up for Democratic and Republican precinct caucuses.

"When turnout is so low it amplifies their voice," said Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford. "The activists certainly have a long memory."

Among the seven Republicans was Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a presidential candidate in 2000 who is often mentioned as a potential aspirant in 2008.

"I think McCain is going to suffer," Hurley said. "He's a great war hero and I think he meant well, but it will be proven to be a mistake."

McCain skipped Iowa in 2000 and has not built a base in the state. If he seeks the nomination again, many in Iowa assume that he would skip the state.

Conservatives play a critical role in GOP politics, in part because of their willingness to knock on doors, stuff envelopes and do all the grass-roots work needed in a state like Iowa.

"For candidates, they need a lot of feet on the street and that's what the Christian conservatives will do," Pawlewski said.

White House Looks Ahead To Supreme Court Battle

Bush Expected to Push for a Conservative

By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 25, 2005; A12

With the Senate filibuster dispute behind it, the White House is bracing for a high-stakes battle to fill a seat on the Supreme Court that many expect to come open next month and that could help shape the remainder of President Bush's second term.

For all the appeals for bipartisan harmony, Bush is unlikely to nominate a consensus justice, and Democrats are unlikely to find his choice acceptable, current and former White House officials said. If Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who is ailing, retires at the end of the term as much of Washington expects, the officials said Bush is prepared to name a committed conservative regardless of Democratic opposition.

The names that Bush aides are considering for the first open Supreme Court seat in 11 years have already drawn sharp criticism from liberals, and the interest-group machinery on both sides has been mobilizing for war. By any measure, both sides forecast a titanic struggle akin to a national election campaign, a battle waged with the weapons of 21st-century politics against the backdrop of red-state-blue-state ideological division.

"We have not had a confirmation process in the modern era . . . and I think the people inside government are not fully appreciative of how different this is going to be," said Bradford A. Berenson, who served as associate White House counsel during Bush's first term. "In all imaginable scenarios, this will be a battle royale."

Advisers said neither the deal brokered by Senate centrists nor Democratic opposition would change the president's calculus in picking the next justice. "He's not going to shy away," said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because no vacancy has been announced. "The Democrats can throw high and tight fastballs if they want, but it's not going to work."

Bush understands that he has the opportunity to redefine the court, particularly if two or three members of the aging bench depart in the next three years. "It's going to be one of the key legacies of this administration," the official said.

And so the White House has prepared an aggressive campaign to sell its nominee, having learned the lessons of the failed nomination of Robert H. Bork in 1987 -- when liberals shaped the battle from the beginning. "That's not going to happen again," the official said. "This White House is not going to get caught flat-footed. It's going to lay out the case from the very start."

But Bush is operating from a position of some weakness. With his approval ratings hovering in the mid-40s, the lowest of his presidency, he has struggled to find traction in the Republican Congress on his top domestic priority, restructuring Social Security. The House defied Bush's veto threat yesterday by voting to ease restrictions on stem cell research, and Congress is poised to send him a pricey highway bill over his objections. Looking ahead to a trying summer, the president cannot count on many easy wins. Even if the Senate confirms John R. Bolton as U.N. ambassador, it will have come after an ugly fight, analysts noted.

Given that, some Democrats argue that Bush would be better off compromising on a Supreme Court nominee. "I hope the president will really rise up above this debate that's been going on the last couple of months and send up to the Senate someone who won't just get five or six or seven Democratic votes but will get 35 Democratic votes," said Jack Quinn, who was White House counsel under President Bill Clinton.

Yet few Bush opponents expect him to do that. "Time and again, he's just stuck his finger in the eye of the Democrats," said Ralph G. Neas, president of the liberal People for the American Way.
The White House has been preparing for this moment almost since the instant Bush took office. Anticipating a possible high court vacancy in June 2001, a high-level working group convened to cull potential candidates and map out strategy that spring. The White House repeated the process in 2002 and 2003, but no justice stepped down.

Still, it left the president's team with a thick file on likely choices. Among those most often mentioned by insiders are Judges J. Michael Luttig and J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit; John G. Roberts of the D.C. Circuit; Michael W. McConnell of the 10th Circuit; Emilio M. Garza of the 5th Circuit; former solicitor general Theodore B. Olsen; and former deputy attorney general Larry D. Thompson. Although Bush has praised Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, White House advisers doubt he would elevate either to chief justice.

Age and diversity will play roles as Bush considers the list. Olsen, for instance, may be too old at 64 because the president will want someone who could be on the bench for 25 years or more, some insiders say. On the other hand, Bush would like to make history by naming a Hispanic justice, but having just installed his close adviser, Alberto R. Gonzales, as attorney general, many analysts believe this might not be the moment.

"We know that the president very deeply and very sincerely would like to appoint the court's first Hispanic," Berenson said. "That's sort of an open secret. Whether he'll do that with his first appointment, especially if it's chief justice, is hard to say."

One thing that is clear, he and others said, is that Bush will pick someone with a strong conservative judicial philosophy. And the Bush team is banking on the idea that Democrats cannot filibuster a nominee who is no more conservative than the three appellate nominees they just agreed to let come to a floor vote. "Outside of the president nominating Jack the Ripper, I don't think there's the stomach to filibuster," said Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice, formed to support Bush judicial nominees.

Besides Bush, the key players in any choice will include Gonzales; Vice President Cheney; White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr.; his deputy, Karl Rove; and White House counsel Harriet Miers, many of them veterans of tough fights. But no Supreme Court nomination has been fought in an era dominated by the Internet, e-mail, blogs, talk radio and multiple 24-hour cable news networks. And the fight will be new to most of the Senate as well; 56 senators have never voted on a Supreme Court nomination.

"It's going to be very, very different," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, a group founded by Pat Robertson to support conservative legal causes. "Both sides are better organized than ever before."

1 comment:

B2 said...

Nuclear Option May Still Be Invoked, Frist Says

By Susan Jones

May 24, 2005

( - The nuclear option is gone for the moment but not forgotten, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Tuesday morning on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said the nuclear option is "gone for our lifetime," and he bristled at Frist's "threat" to bring it back.

Frist and Reid spoke one day after fourteen senators signed a "memorandum of understanding" that allows three of President Bush's most controversial judicial nominees to receive an up-or-down vote; and leaves the judicial filibuster intact for the time being, although it's supposed to be used only in "extraordinary circumstances."

Frist said he's pleased that the agreement begins to "break the partisan obstruction that we've seen over the past two years."

He said the agreement will make filibusters "almost impossible," except under "extraordinary circumstances."

But Frist expressed concern about the "extraordinary circumstances" test, saying it will mean very little if it's applied to nominees such as Miguel Estrada, who finally withdrew his name from consideration.

"We'll have to wait and see," Frist said.

"Let me very clear. The constitutional option remains on the table. It remains an option. I will not hesitate to use it, if necessary. It should be used as a last resort, he added, admitting that no one wants to go there.

"But it is the only response if there is a change in behavior like we saw in the last Congress," First said.

Frist repeated that the agreement reached Monday night says to him that "we're not going to be filibustering like we did in the last Congress."

Frist said he's not making any threats - but if the "other side of the aisle acts in bad faith" and continues to routinely obstruct nominees who make it through committee to the Senate floor, "the constitutional option is going to come out again."

Frist said he'll set a date to invoke the option - if that's what it takes to move the Senate forward.

Frist said the memorandum of understanding made "modest progress" in that Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor will get the votes they deserve; but he said the memorandum does "stop far short of guaranteeing [other] judicial nominees the fair up-or-down votes that they deserve."

Frist said Priscilla Owen will get an up-or-down vote on the floor of the full Senate later Tuesday, to be followed "expeditiously" by Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor and other nominees at a still undetermined time.

But "why just those three?" Frist asked. He said the agreement struck Monday night is not fair to future nominees.

Frist said regardless of the agreement's shortfalls, the entire debate has raised awareness about the "injustice of judicial obstruction."

"I believe that we have now the opportunity to those traditions of 214 years -- those precedents of 214 years -- to give these nominees fair up-or-down votes."

Frist said he's "cautiously optimistic" that it can happen.

'Nuclear option gone'

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said he supports the memorandum of understanding, which "took the nuclear option off the table."

It's "gone for our lifetime -- we don't have to talk about it anymore."

He said he's disappointed about Frist's "threats" to bring it back. "Let's move on and do the Senate's business," Reid said.

Reid said all filibusters are "extraordinary," and there will be more applied to judges in the future. "That's what the Senate's all about," he said.

Reid said he admires and respects the deal that 14 senators were able to strike on Monday night, and he expressed disappointment that he and Frist were unable to reach a deal themselves.

He also indicated that Democrats are in no hurry to confirm Bush's most controversial nominees.

Reid said the Senate needs time to talk about the three judges whom Democrats oppose on ideological grounds. "But we have to be realistic. Unless we work into next week [the Memorial Day recess], we can't do all these judges."

Reid said he thinks the Senate might want to move to less controversial judges after voting on Owen.

"We here want to move forward. We have so much that needs to be done," Reid said, and he mentioned the Bolton nomination. He said he hopes to "make that as easy as possible for everyone."

"But none of this stuff is going to take an hour or two," Reid added.

The 14 Senators who signed the deal that avoids a final decision on judicial filibusters include seven Democrats and seven Republicans.

Republicans first: John McCain (Ariz.), John Warner (Va.), Mike DeWine (Ohio), Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Lincoln Chafee (R.I.). The Democrats are Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Ken Salazar (Colo.), Robert Byrd (W.V.), Joseph Lieberman (Conn.) and Daniel Inouye (Hawaii).