Federal JudiciaryGeneralPolitics

Marathon Debate over Judges: Bush Calls for Up or Down Vote

Cots are being set up in the United States Senate in anticipation of an all-night session.

While President Bush today called for the full Senate to vote on his judicial picks, saying his nominees deserve “a fair hearing”, the United States Senate is preparing itself for a marathon all night session. Read the story here:

Prodded anew by President Bush, the Senate plunged into marathon debate Monday over the administration’s conservative judicial nominees and the rights of Democrats to deny them final votes on confirmation.

“People ought to have a fair hearing and they ought to get an up-or-down vote on the floor,” Bush said at a White House news conference.

He spoke as Republican and Democratic leaders steered the Senate toward an all-night session culminating in a Tuesday showdown — and as centrists from both parties struggled to defuse the controversy.

At immediate issue was the nomination of Priscilla Owen, a member of the Texas Supreme Court, nominated to a seat on the federal appeals court. But the stakes were far broader than that, with Republicans seeking to strip Democrats of their right to filibuster nominees to the appeals court and Supreme Court.

Stay Tuned!

Flap handicaps an up or down vote on all nominees brought out of the Judiciary Committee with no change in the Senate rules (nuclear option).

Update #1

Frist Said to Have ‘Nuclear Option’ Votes. Read the story here:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist reportedly has the votes to enforce the so-called “nuclear option” against judicial filibusters instigated by Democrats, despite claims to the contrary by Minority Leader Harry Reid.

Well….. the Democrats may want to strike a deal?

Update #2

Captain Ed over at Captain’s Quarter’s weighs in here:

Despite the media grandstanding of John McCain in attempting to fashion a compromise that winds up tossing judicial nominees under the bus, fellow GOP Senator George Allen predicts that the Senate will be forced to adopt the Byrd option and rule filibusters out of order for judicial confirmations. Allen told ABC yesterday that the Republicans have the votes to do it on Tuesday..

In fact, the Democrats have already come to that conclusion. As the Washington Times notes, the Democrats in recent days have dropped the threat of stopping Senate business, spooked by the widespread comparisons to Newt Gingrich and 1995. Now they reject even the notion of a slowdown, as Chuck Schumer declared:

“We are not going to attempt to shut down the Senate,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat and early architect of the filibusters. “We are not going to attempt to slow down the Senate.”

The new Democratic plan for retaliation, Mr. Schumer said, will be to “implement our strategy of basically trying to use the Senate rules to put items on the agenda that the American people care about.”

“We are going to attempt to use the rules — as well as outside pressure — to force the Senate to take up agenda items that we haven’t done before,” said Mr. Schumer, who now heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).

That represents a significant climbdown from their earlier threats, and one that clearly shows they expect to lose. In truth, the Democrats had nothing to offer the GOP for a compromise. They refused to foreswear filibusters in the future in exchange for picking off one or two of the nominees, and without that, the GOP could not trust them to exercise any discretion of its use, especially given their track record. They’ve blocked a third of Bush’s appellate-court nominees by filibuster, including several with the highest ABA ratings, an abuse that will cost them access to that tactic in the end.

Just vote them up or down!