Judicial Compromise

Monday, May 09, 2005

Judicial Compromise

I am not highlighting this comment from Sen. Hagel so that I can play the favorite political parlor game "Let's Praise the Occasionally Reasonable Opposition Party Member as a Way to Bash the Rest of the Opposition Party for Being So Unreasonable."

Rather, I am highlighting his remarks because they seem to me the only moment of sanity I have heard in recent weeks regarding the filibuster fight
"My goodness, you've got 100 United States senators. Some of us might be moderately intelligent enough to figure this out," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. "We need to work through this."


"We would, I think, debase our system and fail our country if we don't do this," Hagel told ABC's "This Week."
What has been lost in this never-ending battle is just how childish it really is. If the most powerful men and women in this country cannot come to some reasonable compromise on this issue, then something is seriously, seriously wrong with our current political environment.

And this offers me an opportunity to dust off a post I made more than 2 years ago where I set out a compromise proposal on judicial nominations whereby the President was guaranteed that every one of his nominees would receive a hearing and a vote. In exchange, every nominee would be required to receive 60 votes in order to be confirmed.

Obviously, the context was slightly different when I first wrote this but the basic point still applies. The only change I would make to this proposal is to adopt an idea put forth in this Washington Post editorial yesterday
If compromise proves impossible, the Republicans should propose a reform of Senate rules that would take effect in January 2009.
60 votes is now the de facto standard and despite Republican outrage, it is a reasonable one.

Any nominee that cannot receive 60 affirmative votes for confirmation does not deserve to be confirmed. And I strongly suspect that had this standard been in place at the time Bush took office, many of his filibustered nominees would never have been nominated. But I also suspect that some of the others, like Miguel Estrada, might even have been confirmed.

Update: Via Southern Appeal, I see that Roll Call is reporting that a compromise might be near
A bipartisan coalition of Senators believe it is close to a deal that would avert the looming showdown between Republicans and Democrats over judicial filibusters.

The potential deal, spearheaded by Sens. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), would involve at least a half-dozen Senators from each party signing a letter or memorandum of understanding that signals how they would proceed to vote on all matters related to judicial nominations.

The six Senate Republicans would commit to opposing the so-called nuclear option to end judicial filibusters, which would leave GOP leaders short of the 50 votes they need to execute the parliamentary move to abolish the procedure.

In exchange, the six Senate Democrats would pledge to allow votes on four of the seven circuit court nominees who were already filibustered in the 108th Congress and have been renominated.

Perhaps more importantly, the six Democrats would pledge to vote for cloture to end filibuster attempts on all other judicial nominees named by President Bush, including Supreme Court picks, except in “extreme circumstances,” according to a senior aide familiar with the discussions.
I happen to think this is a very fair compromise (hell, at this point I'd pretty much back any half-way decent compromise just to get this stupid fight over with) but Feddie is "furious about this nonsense" and claims that it is time for conservatives to "raise the black flag, folks. No quarter to the dems or their weak-kneed, Republican accomplices."

I guess we can't agree on everything.

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