Monday, May 16, 2005

Who is the Radical?

Sen. Frist has an op-ed in today's USA Today supporting his imminent invocation of the nuclear option.

In paragraph 2 of his op-ed, Sen. Frist says:

Our Constitution grants the Senate the power to confirm or reject the president's judicial nominees. In exercising this duty, the Senate has always followed a careful and deliberate process of examining the nominees through hearings, discussing their merits in committee, debating them in the full Senate and then coming to an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. We investigate, we debate, and then we decide.

But then he says in paragraph 3:

Beginning in 2003, however, the Senate stopped deciding. Until then, every judicial nominee who cleared the Senate's committee process received the courtesy of that vote. Some nominees were rejected on the floor, but they always received that vote.

As someone who is always in need of a careful proofreader, I can appreciate how errors like this can occur, but exactly how does the "cleared committee requirement" portion of his argument in paragraph three, jibe with the "every judicial nominee got an up or down vote" portion of his argument in paragraph two? I far as I can tell, it doesn't.

What Sen. Frist really means is that every nominee who survives the Senate's various procedural requirements and hurdles gets to an up or down vote. If he means otherwise, Sen. Frist should acknowledge that he has a radical new view of the Constitution.

In his op-ed Sen. Frist is unable to acknowledge that it has never been the tradition of the Senate that every nominee would get an up or down vote, nor has it the Constiution ever ben interpreted to require an up or down vote.

Historically, there have always been various procedural ways in which the minority party, or individual Senators,were able to stall judicial nominees. By removing those obstacles in the past few years, the GOP majority has been reducing the minority party's power, a pattern they would continue by invoking the nuclear option.

You can read Frist's whole op-ed here. But remember, it is Sen. Frist and the GOP who are introducing a radical new Constitutional interpretation, not Harry Reid and the Democrats.