Wednesday, November 13, 2013

GOP War on Women Combines With GOP War On The Judiciary For Another Successful Filibuster


A few months ago, Senate Republicans agreed to start behaving and stop the ritual obstruction of all the president's judicial nominations. Basically, a handful of Republicans agreed they would help Democrats break the filibusters of routine nominees and only filibuster obviously really, really bad ones. A bunch of nominees got passed and then… the Republicans went back on the agreement. Tuesday, they successfully filibustered Cornelia Pillard for an appointment to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The cloture attempt, which needed 60 votes, went down 56-41, only Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) living up to their promise to stop the obstructionism. (Orrin Hatch voted "present.")

Jennifer Bendery at HuffPo pointed out that blatant sexism in the Republican's latest obstructionist onslaught.

Democrats have noted that Republicans keep filibustering female nominees to the D.C. Circuit. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) wondered aloud on the Senate floor "whether there is a double standard" when it comes to putting women on that court. Before Pillard, Republicans also blocked Patricia Millett and Caitlin Halligan.

"Caitlin Halligan, who practiced before the U.S. Supreme Court, was the Solicitor General for the State of New York, why block her? Why block Patty Millett, who worked in the Solicitor General's office under both administrations?" Kaine asked Thursday. "Why block Nina Pillard? Nina Pillard was the appellate attorney before the United States Supreme Court to argue for the need to admit women students to the Virginia Military Institute."

"Another woman filibustered... another woman stopped in her tracks," Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said after Millett's blocked vote. "This has to end. We've been making so much progress for women in the judicial system."
Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who claimed the vote against Pillard is not part of the Republican War Against Women, dared the Democrats to invoke "the nuclear option," which would end the automated filibuster Republicans have been using. What it looks like is the GOP taking advantage of Obama's falling popularity and an ability to question his legitimacy as a president. They equate filing judicial vacancies with "packing the court." It was their third vote to block a nominee in 2 weeks.
Looming underneath their disagreements about Ms. Pillard is the likelihood — which appeared to grow considerably on Tuesday — that the fight will escalate and result in a change to the Senate rules to limit the minority party’s ability to filibuster judicial nominees.

Senator Richard J. Durbin, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, warned Republicans that they were pushing the Senate dangerously close to a tipping point.

“There reaches a point where we can’t allow this type of injustice to occur,” he said, all but threatening that Democrats would be forced to change the rules. “It’s not fair to these nominees,” he added, “to be given the back of the hand by a Republican filibuster on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, who is a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, dared Democrats to change the rules, saying it would come back to haunt them if they lost the majority.

“Go ahead,” Mr. Grassley said. “There are a lot more Scalias and Thomases that we’d love to put on the bench,” referring to Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court.

Democrats have made much of the fact that two of the three nominees whom Republicans have rejected recently-- and three of the filibustered nominees the president has submitted for the District of Columbia appeals court over the last year-- were women. Mr. Grassley rejected the idea that sex played any role in opposition to the nominees.

“When the other side runs out of legitimate arguments, their last line of defense is to accuse Republicans of opposing nominees based upon gender or race,” he said. “It’s a well-worn card. And they play it every time.”

The nomination of one more judge to the appeals court could move to the Senate floor soon. Robert L. Wilkins, a Federal District Court judge for the District of Columbia, has already cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee and is awaiting a floor vote.

But Republicans have shown no willingness to approve him, either.
Yesterday, Elizabeth Warren weighed in on the pattern of Republican obstructionism against Obama's nominees. "The powerful interests that work to rig the Supreme Court also want to rig the lower courts. The D.C. Circuit is a particular target because that court has the power to overturn agency regulations." She noted that nine of the fourteen judges on the D.C. Circuit were appointed by Republicans, and that the court has been busy striking down federal agency regulations and protections.

"Republicans may not like Wall Street Reform. They may not like Obamacare. But Congress passed those laws. President Obama signed those laws. President Obama ran for reelection on those laws, while his opponent pledged to repeal them-- and his opponent lost by nearly five million votes. It is not up to judges to overturn those laws or their associated regulations just because they don't fit those judges' policy preferences.


Senator Warren called Republicans efforts to rig the D.C. Circuit by blocking the President's highly qualified judicial nominees "naked attempts to nullify the results of the last Presidential election" and argued that if the filibusters continue, "then Senators not only have a right to change the filibuster rules-- Senators have a duty to change the filibuster rules. We cannot turn our backs on the Constitution. We cannot abdicate our oath of office. We have a responsibility to protect and defend our democracy, and that includes protecting the neutrality of our courts-- and preserving the Constitutional power of the President to nominate highly qualified people to fill their vacancies."

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At 2:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Reid simply require an actual filibuster instead of accepting an announcement thereof in its stead.

Another words, why do Democrats afflicted themselves with such spineless fucks for "leadership"?

That includes, of course, "off the table" you-knoiw-who.

John Puma


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