More Fun With Filibuster Hypocrisy

It isn’t just the politicians being hypocrites on the question of filibustering judicial nominees. Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel is also expressing aggrieved outrage at the vote to do exactly what he demanded be done only a few years ago. Here’s what he said in 2005:

Liberty Counsel, as part of the National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters, recently signed a letter urging the the U.S. Senate leadership “to end the judicial filibusters at the earliest possible moment and well before a Supreme Court vacancy should occur.” The letter also pointed out that “while it is the right of the President to expect the Senate to give Advice and Consent within a reasonable period of time, it is the duty of every Senator to offer Advice and Consent through an honest, up or down vote.”

Yes, it is their DUTY to give every nominee an “honest up or down vote.” How dare those senators fail to do so! Now let’s set the wayback machine for Wednesday and look at this press release. Now it’s suddenly a “frightening power grab.”

President Obama Stacks the Court in Frightening Power Grab

Washington, DC – Today, Senator Harry Reid invoked the “nuclear option” on judicial nominations, not including nominations to the Supreme Court. Under the new rules change, a judicial nominee does not need to meet the 60-vote cloture threshold and can be confirmed by a simple majority vote.

“Today’s action by Harry Reid is frightening, and every freedom-loving American should be deeply concerned,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel…

“Not only is Obama’s power grab frightening, Reid’s use of the ‘nuclear option’ is the height of hypocrisy,” says Staver. “Senate Democrats filibustered the nominations of Miguel Estrada and Janice Rogers Brown to the D.C. Circuit in 2001 and 2003, respectively. At that time, Senate Democrats argued that the D.C. Circuit’s workload did not necessitate additional judges. Since then, the D.C. Circuit’s workload has actually diminished, yet Harry Reid invokes the ‘nuclear option’ so that three more judges can be added to the D.C. Circuit,” Staver explains.

Actually, that wasn’t the argument that Democrats were making at the time. It wasn’t about workload, it was about Rogers Brown and Estrada being really, really extreme nominees (especially Rogers Brown). But even if he were right, doesn’t that make him equally guilty of hypocrisy? Of course it does. But he doesn’t even pretend to be consistent or coherent. All that matters is that the argument being made serve his agenda.

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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Now, look, the GOP is being forced to filibuster these nominees only because they’re so extreme. How extreme are they? Extreme enough that the GOP is being forced to filibuster them.

  • Amphiox

    So, 2 filibusters over 3 years, versus 3 filibusters in 2 weeks.

    Yay! Equivalence!

  • http://thebronzeblog.wordpress.com/ Bronze Dog

    Consistency is only an issue for people who care about morality, rationality, and predictability of interactions with non-anarchic organizations. Therefore, it doesn’t apply to politicians. Even less for wingnuts.

  • JasonTD

    It wasn’t about workload, it was about Rogers Brown and Estrada being really, really extreme nominees (especially Rogers Brown).

    Who gets to decide which nominees are “really, really extreme?” Well, that’s what the Advice and Consent of the Senate is intended to accomplish. It should be noted, that Janice Rogers Brown was eventually confirmed in 2005, while Estrada removed his name from consideration after the last failed cloture vote. The Estrada nomination was apparently the first time an appointment at the appeals court level had been successfully blocked by a filibuster, by the way. Also, Estrada would have been confirmed in a simple majority vote.

    “The nuclear option abandons America’s sense of fair play . . . tilting the playing field on the side of those who control and own the field. I say to my friends on the Republican side: You may own the field right now, but you won’t own it forever. I pray God when the Democrats take back control, we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing.” – then-Sen. Joe Biden, 2005.

  • dan4

    @4: “Who gets to decide which nominees are “really, really extreme?” Uh, Ed was basically stating the rationale behind the Democrats’ filibustering of Estrada and Rogers Brown wasn’t based on what Staver said it was (“Actually, that wasn’t the argument that the Democrats were making at the time”).

  • JasonTD

    dan4 @5: I’d like to see some evidence what Ed claims the arguments of the Democrats actually were. Everything I’ve been able to find, from the link I made before to this one, show that while Democrats might have believed that Estrada was “really, really extreme,” as Ed put it, they just didn’t have a public record on him taking out such positions. Tom Daschle (minority leader at the time) said, “The stumbling block to Miguel Estrada’s nomination all along was the administration’s refusal to allow him to complete his job application and provide the Senate with the basic information it needed to evaluate and vote on his nomination.” The Democrats had been demanding to see memos from Estrada’s time at the Solicitor General’s office, though the executive branch releasing those kinds of confidential work-product records would have been unprecedented.

    Basically, my contention here is that Ed made a value judgement in the way he compared the situations with Estrada and Rogers Brown to the present situation, when he labeled those two filibustered Bush nominees as “really, really extreme.” He might as well as come out and said that those two deserved to be blocked on ideological grounds, despite having 51+ vote support in the Senate, but that Republicans blocking Obama’s nominees now for ideological reasons isn’t ok.

  • Wylann

    To be somewhat fair, I think Ed should also dig out all the quotes from dems and what they said then vs. what they’re saying now. We know there’s lots of hypocrisy in politics, on both sides. So we shouldn’t play favorites, just because we might agree with the somewhat saner side…. or something.