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POLITICS: Mitchell Decries GOP Filibuster Plan

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posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 04:07 AM
Calling a Republican plan to eliminate filibusters on judicial nominees "unprecedented, unfair and unwise.", Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell is asking the Senate to reject the plan. The current majority leader, Senator Bill Frist has threatened to make rule change that would eliminate the minority Democrats ability to stall nominees. Frist is expected to try to make the rule change before Memorial Day.
WASHINGTON - Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell called on senators Saturday to reject a Republican plan to ban filibusters of judicial nominees, calling it "unprecedented, unfair and unwise."

"Neither I nor any other senator, Republican or Democrat, ever dreamed of taking the kind of drastic action now being proposed," said Mitchell, a former federal judge himself who was majority leader from 1988-95 as a senator from Maine.

"We had the power to do so, but we refrained from exercising that power because it was as wrong then as it is now. The end does not justify the means," he said in the Democrats' weekly radio address.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

Clearly the eyes are on the Supreme Court. This also tells me that the short list for Chief justice is either Thomas of Scalia both of which would be a controversial choice. Also the religious right is actively placing pressure on the GOP to nominate judges that are in line with thier various agendas. The Democrats have threatened to filibuster 10 of the 214 nominees so far. The rules in the Senate have been in place for 2 centuries and I do not think that they should be changed for such a trivial political reason as this.

posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 04:17 AM
Forgive me of being ignorant of US political goings-on, but what the hell is a Filibuster?

posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 04:20 AM
Basically it is a way to pretty much halt debate on an issue. You get up and you can talk about the weather, the lint in your toes anything. Each Democratic Senator will take turns talking away. I forget how many votes it takes to force an end to one, but I do know the Republicans do not have a big enough majority to do so.

So the minority party can delay things and perhaps force a compromise etc.

Despite its negative connotations, it's a legitimate Congressional privilege. To invoke a filibuster, a senator must have the floor. Then the senator simply starts talking (and talking...). Cloture, a three-fifths majority vote (that's 60 votes) needed to end a debate, grinds the blustering to a halt.

Notable gabbers include senators Peter Fitzgerald, Mitch McConnell, and Strom Thurmond, who staged the longest filibuster in history, talking for 24 hours and 18 minutes.

Most recently, Ted Kennedy threatened to use his privilege in the confirmation hearings of John Ashcroft.

Interesting sidenote: The phrase "longer than a Lousiana filibuster" was coined when southern senators blocked civil rights legislation in the 1950s and 1960s.

[edit on 4/3/05 by FredT]

posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 04:50 AM
Really? That seems very odd.

In Parliament (in the UK), if an MP did that, he would get shot down in less time than it would take to clear his throat! Our guys tend to debate the actual issue, rather than just waste time ( know what I mean

Why not just oppose the bill etc, with normal opposition?

posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 05:34 AM
But after 24 hours wouldn't u be allowed to pass the legislation still??

posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 06:34 AM
It's more important an issue than even just those 100 some Federal Judges Bush wants to push through. It's about consolidation of power and in many respects about changing from a two party system to a one party system.

"We had the power to do so, but we refrained from exercising that power because it was as wrong then as it is now. The end does not justify the means," he said in the Democrats' weekly radio address.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

Absolutely the Democrats could have done this at some point in the 40 years they held majority, but instead they let the esteemed Senator from North Carolina read from the Bible all day and night to block votes on AIDS funding while his dark forces regrouped. Why? Because it's fundamentally how American government works.

The idea that we would even consider allowing one side to change the rules (again apparently as they already did for DeLay over ethics violations) is akin to the following:

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Doesn't Filibuster, No Boy Scouts Save Day, Evil Wins!

Apparently Republicans hate Jimmy Stewart. I'm just giving this for the context of what America is about to lose. When they say "long standing tradition" it's a long standing, American as apple pie, TRADITION.

The GOP move will come on this sometime during Pope funeralmania. Don't wake up one day to learn the filibuster has gone the way of ANWAR.

This can be blocked with the help of Republican moderates. Or if your state doesn't have those, just do the best you can.

For example, I'm asking my own Senators Burr (336-631-5125) and Libby Dole (252-329-1093, 919-856-4630, 704-633-5011, 828-698-3747) ALL NEXT WEEK why they hate Jimmy Stewart?

Then I'm logging the calls in this database so it can be entered in the Senate record.

Why Jimmy Stewart? Just think of our simplistic, analogous, video driven media today. They'll get this. People will get this. And maybe, just maybe the Republicans will get this.


[edit on 3-4-2005 by RANT]

posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 06:41 AM
I don't mean to fan the flames or anything, as my own understanding of the (very strange) world of US politics is limited, but isn't this akin to how a dictatorship could form?

I mean, no effective oposition would be disatrous, as with even the smallest majority could push through all sorts of laws.

I know thats how it works in the UK, but to be honest, our politicians are guys down the street, representing a local community. They could be held accountable.

Not to mention the fact many part MP's would rebel, and then, even if nasty legislation was passed in the commons, the Lords, and eventually the Queen would have to ratify it as well.

Is this not slightly dodgy?

posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 07:00 AM

Originally posted by stumason
Is this not slightly dodgy?

Yes. It's more than dodgy. It's tyranny. I can't imagine a less American move by the Fristies.

posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 07:20 AM
Well, we can hope this gets "Filibustered" itself....

If not, God (insert deity here) help us..............

posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 08:06 AM
Wow, just wow.

I didnt think it possible but Ive less respect for the Bush Administration after reading this thread than I ever did.

I'd like to see Seekerof thumbs up this.

posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 08:21 AM
appalling, absolutely appalling. I hope that the Republican party fails in this endeavour and it certainly highlights the notion that since the 2004 election that the winners get the say and the losers just shut up :L

Yes, I would love Seekerof to thumb this up too, he'd probably do a good job of it as well!


posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 09:52 AM
As Garrison Keilor said in his book "Homegrown Democrat" "The current crop of Republicans are not your small town merchant Republicans that you could respect evn if you disagreed with them, they are nihilsts." I have said repeatidly that..."us liberals are fully aware that there are plenty of good and decent conservatives out there and plenty of good and decent Republicans (something you would never say about those of us on the left) but what you guys just don't understand is that your party has been taken over by extremists and that you are being taken for a ride." Intolerance for any opinion but their own is a hallmark of a totalerian stance. The congressional Democrats are trying to block a handful, less than a dozen of that damn fool jackasses, sorry I mean Bushes (LOL) judicial appointments when they blocked hundreds of Clintons but it was OK when they did it. Hypocrites. And these schleps battle cry is activist judges as if their conservative judges aren't. How people can still be decieved by these people into voting for them is beyond me but then I remember that quote from John Stuart Mills...."While it is not true that all conservatives are stupid, it is true that most stupid people are conservative."

posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 09:53 AM

[img][43B01F20-7CD3-4BCE-86E6-D024F8E5FE7B]/MRSMITH.JPG[/img] As the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington so eloquently conveys, one of the country's most critical checks and balances has been a 200-year-old Senate tradition: the filibuster. What would our country be without it?

Click link to sign protest petition, see current ads (just saw one on CNN) and learn how to be heard.

It'll take common sense Republicans to stop the Neo-Cons this time. No "activist judge" can protect us from the real "activist judges" Bush wants.
[img][43B01F20-7CD3-4BCE-86E6-D024F8E5FE7B]/TED.JPG[/img]Meet Ted Nonini.
He’s a common sense Republican with common sense concerns about the "nuclear option."

Do something now or don't complain about it later. The majority of Americans OPPOSE nuking the filibuster. But since when have our representatives been representative? Make them start.

posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 12:02 PM
Also if i read it right, the one area of federal government where there is no say by the people. is in the federal and supreme courts. The one statement that is reiterated is that when we choose our elected officals, we choose them to make those decisions for us. By doing this we completely remove "the people" from having any impact as a whole what so ever.

Also, think about this, anything that is ever fought over as being unconstitutional, or that is taken to court to fight for "justice" outside of local and state courts, will now have it's final decision made by someone who is appointed out of one set of interests.

Personally, I heard about this a while ago but thought it was a joke, well I will have letters in the mail next week, as well as some phone calls to make.

PS: I signed the petition

posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 12:28 PM
Cloture is the real issue here, not the right to filibuster which is a separate subject

According to the U.S.Senates own website the rules have been changed several times,

In the early years of Congress, representatives as well as senators could use the filibuster technique. As the House grew in numbers, however, it was necessary to revise House rules to limit debate. In the smaller Senate, unlimited debate continued since senators believed any member should have the right to speak as long as necessary.

In 1841, when the Democratic minority hoped to block a bank bill promoted by Henry Clay, Clay threatened to change Senate rules to allow the majority to close debate. Thomas Hart Benton angrily rebuked his colleague, accusing Clay of trying to stifle the Senate's right to unlimited debate. Unlimited debate remained in place in the Senate until 1917. At that time, at the suggestion of President Woodrow Wilson, the Senate adopted a rule (Rule 22) that allowed the Senate to end a debate with a two-thirds majority vote -- a tactic known as "cloture."

The new Senate rule was put to the test in 1919, when the Senate invoked cloture to end a filibuster against the Treaty of Versailles. Despite the new cloture rule, however, filibusters continued to be an effective means to block legislation, due in part to the fact that a two-thirds majority vote is difficult to obtain. Over the next several decades, the Senate tried numerous times to evoke cloture, but failed to gain the necessary two-thirds vote. Filibusters were particularly useful to southern senators blocking civil rights legislation in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1975, the Senate reduced the number of votes required for cloture from two-thirds (67) to three-fifths (60) of the 100-member Senate.

U.S. Senate

Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution,

Clause 2: He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The only item requiring a super majority in the above statement is the approval of treaties. Other super majority rules are spelled out in the constitution, not among them is the appointment of judiciary or cabinet positions. The constitution simply requires an up or down vote. Even the last three rules stating how appointments may be vested in other legs of government do not mention a method vesting such powers in senate committees as is being done at this time.

Again quoting the Senates website,

Generally, when the president and the majority of the Senate belong to the same political party, the Senate tends to approve the president's choices. The exceptions to this well-established pattern occur in the final year of a president's term and in cases in which the nominee obviously lacks competence or personal integrity.

As the Senate was to represent each state equally, its role offered security to the small states, whose delegates feared they would be overwhelmed by appointees sympathetic to the larger states. Even Alexander Hamilton, who wished to strengthen the executive against legislative interference, supported the concept of dual responsibility, believing that the president's authority to nominate was sufficient to control the appointment process, for the Senate could do no more than accept or reject his choices. In placing the legislative role in the Senate, which was intended to be relatively immune from political pressure, and by requiring joint action with the president, the framers hoped to minimize corrupt bargaining for appointments.

As it stands now IMHO bargaining, partisanship and backdoor dealing are the norm in order to get an appointee's case before the full senate for a simple up or down vote.

The minority likes to bring forth the boogymanish straw argument that a religious right movement will take over the judiciary that in recent years has arguably ruled new law into existence based not on legislative action or constitutional law, but on its own opinion in favor of minority political views (judicial fiat) not neccessarily held by the voters whom are ultimately charged with the responsibility by voting for their individual Senators.

The said same sentiment that the existing cloture rules are OK today because laws can be enacted without going through the traditional process of government whereby many of todays controversial laws would fail on their merit was the said same rule used in the sixties by the southern democrats to hold up civil rights legislation for nearly two decades against a northern majority who wanted passage - it should not be forgotten that cloture is a well mis-used rule that has a dark past.

Judicial dictatorialship and misuse of arcane senate rules is a two edged sword that ultimately weakens and dilutes the power granted to each and every individual citizen of this country in their vote for or against those views pro-offered by candidates for the senate.

As time goes by we the people have given our power up in the name of convenience called "whats in it for me" in all action or decision made by government. The desire for expediency has in my view eroded my rights to such an extent that I no longer recognize the country of my youth.

The up or down vote for appointees fullfills the constitutional advise and consent rule as laid down by the framers. Factions in the senate and its committees should not have the power to usurp that given to the full senate and by a majority of people who voted for senators with particular views they are in agreement with.

I do not support the religious right nor the dictatorial leftists both whom desire to force their views upon me.

If from time to time I have to accept far left or right judiciary in order to build a court that rules on the constitutionality of existing legislation rather than inventing it out of thin air so be it - I will exercise my right at the voting booth where it belongs.


posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 02:07 PM
It is intesting that the Republians have used their majority to consoldate thier power instead of passing laws that would have been hard to pass without a majoirty.

First went the Ethic violations, now the power of the minority, next we will ahve a dictatorship

posted on Apr, 3 2005 @ 02:12 PM
The rule is aimed at Judicial appointees. Its an attempt to appease the relgious rights groups that are up in arms about "activist judges". How bad are these ten that the Dems are trying to block?

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