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May 25, 2005

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Idiots? (Republican Senate Edition)

Pandagon quotes Mike Allen and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum:

Pandagon: Hey, Dick, Can We Turn The Democratic Side Of The Aisle Into A W.G. Grinder's?: The Washington Post has a script for the nuclear option...

Here's what Republican aides and officials say is most likely to happen:

At 9:30 a.m. today, the Senate will begin debating Bush's nomination of Priscilla Richman Owen, an abortion opponent on the Texas Supreme Court who was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, based in New Orleans.

Tomorrow or Friday, Frist and other Republican senators are likely to file a motion seeking cloture, or an end to debate. One session day must pass before a vote to end debate, so a vote would be held and Republicans would expect to get fewer than 60 votes to confirm Owen.

Frist aides say he has not decided exactly what would occur next. But the scenario most widely expected among senators in both parties is that he would seek a ruling from the chair -- Vice President Cheney, if it looked as if the vote was going to be close -- that filibustering judicial nominations is out of order. Assuming the chair agreed, Reid would then object and ask that the ruling of the chair be tabled. Most Republicans would then vote against the Democratic motion, upholding the ruling. Then the Senate would move to a vote on Owen, and a precedent will have been set that it takes 51 votes, not 60, to cut off debate on a judicial nomination...

Ummm.... Yes and no. A precedent will be set that it takes 51 votes to change the rules of the Senate in a direction that the Senate majority leader wishes.

As Pandagon says:

There's a standing rule in the Senate that it takes 67 of 100 votes to change Senate rules on procedure. What they're asking Cheney to do is to make a ruling that the rules don't allow the disputed course of action, despite the fact that there's approximately zero evidence behind their position. The nice thing for Republicans is that courts stay out internicine procedural warfare in Congress - they'd prefer if you can't have sex with someone of your same gender in the privacy of your own home, but we can pay for Congress to rub its collective ass over the Constitution. Granted, it is double-ply, but still...

It would be one thing for Frist to get 67 votes to change the Senate rules so that 51 votes closes debate on a judicial nomination. This is something very different: a declaration that no matter what the rules have been, the Senate will pretend that the rules are whatever the majority leader can get 51 votes for.

Posted by DeLong at May 25, 2005 01:08 PM