Language Specific

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Language Specific

Following up on Arnold's previous post regarding GOP hypocrisy when it comes to ensuring that every nominee gets an up-or-down vote, I'd like to highlight this statement made by Sen. Frist in his video appearance at the "Justice Sunday" rally
Never in 214 years, never in the history of the United States Senate had a judicial nominee with majority support been denied an up-or-down vote...until two years ago.
There is a lot of specific language in the one little sentence that has been put there so as to create a misleading impression while maintaining technical accuracy.

The "majority support" phrase is there as a way to get around the Republican led filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Abe Fortas back in the 1960s (Republicans like to insist that this wasn't really a filibuster, since Fortas didn't have the votes to get confirmed anyway. That point is debatable.)

As for the limiting phrase "judicial nominee," that is clearly designed to get around things like this (no link available)
Senate Dooms a Vote for Surgeon General

23 June 1995
The New York Times

WASHINGTON, June 22 -- The nomination of Dr. Henry W. Foster Jr. to be Surgeon General died in the Senate today when Democrats failed for a second and final time to end a Republican filibuster.


Today's vote to end the filibuster was 57 to 43, identical to the one taken on Wednesday and 3 votes shy of the 60 votes needed to force a vote on the nomination itself. Under the rules that the Senate majority leader, Bob Dole, set for the debate and that the Democratic minority agreed to a failure to break the filibuster on two tries effectively killed the nomination.
All 43 votes against cloture were cast by Republicans.

I'm sure that if you bother to point that out they clearly did deny a presidential nominee an up-or-down vote, the Republicans will probably just claim that Foster did not have "majority support."

Of course, that begs the question as to why, if they had to votes to defeat Foster, they didn't just do so rather than killing him via filibuster. But I suspect that if you ask them about that, you'll probably end up in Guantanamo.

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