Thursday, May 05, 2005

Bipartisan Opposition to Nuclear Option

In a bipartisan show of oppositon to the "nuclear option," two former Minnesota Senators (one from each party) have an op-ed piece in the Minneapolis St. Paul Star Tribune. Here's a portion of their article:

If the Senate leadership repeals the debate rule based on Vice President Dick Cheney's pre-announced ruling, the Senate's ability to strike any "balance" will be compromised and the Senate will become a second partisan House of Representatives, where one-vote margins are too often a way of doing national business. This will diminish the status of each senator and it will lead to further discord in American public life. The courts will be seen less as independent tribunals that transcend politics and instead will become, increasingly, agents of political passions.

Franklin Roosevelt once wanted to pack the courts; fortunately, the Senate turned him down. President Ronald Reagan claimed the right to a new philosophy for judges based on then-popular themes. But a Republican Senate majority demanded and received an equal voice for senators in applying that judgment. American presidents are elected not by popular vote but by the Electoral College. It is up to the popularly elected Senate to strike the right balance in the exercise of its confirmation powers.

Now, this administration believes it should have a right that no president has ever had in our history, to demand that his judges be confirmed by a strict party-line whip system. The recent attacks on federal judges, many of whom already are conservative Republicans nominated and confirmed during 16 years of Republican presidents and 14 years of Republican Senate majorities, propose a new type of judge, compliant with religious and political tests that would radically undermine America's ideal of an independent judiciary.


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