Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Constitutional refresher

Though we've been through it many times, Bill Kristol has a good short piece in the Weekly Standard today on the why using the filibuster on judicial nominees is extraordinary and inappropriate.

As David A. Crockett of Trinity University in San Antonio has explained, the legislative filibuster makes perfect sense. Article 1 of the Constitution gives each house of Congress the power to determine its own rules. Senate Rule XXII establishes the necessity of 60 votes to close off debate. With this rule, the Senate has chosen to allow 40-plus percent of its members to block legislative action, out of respect for the view that delaying, even preventing, hasty action, or action that has only the support of a narrow majority, can be a good thing...

There is no rationale for a filibuster, however, when the Senate is acting under Article 2 in advising and consenting to presidential nominations. As Crockett points out, here the president is "the originator and prime mover. If he wants to make the process more burdensome, perhaps through lengthy interviews or extraordinary background checks, he can." The Senate's role is to accept or reject the president's nominees, just as the president has a responsibility to accept or reject a bill approved by both houses of Congress. There he does not have the option of delay. Nor should Congress have the option of delay in what is fundamentally an executive function of filling the nonelected positions in the federal government. In other words--to quote Crockett once more--"it is inappropriate for the Senate to employ a delaying tactic normally used in internal business--the construction of legislation--in a nonlegislative procedure that originates in a coequal branch of government."

If you respect the Constitution this is abundantly clear.

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