Thursday, May 05, 2005

Bipartisan Sense on the Nuclear Option

Former Minnesota senators David Durenberger (a Republican) and Walter Mondale (a Democrat, the 1984 presidential nominee) join forces today in an excellent op/ed opposing the nuclear option. "The American people should know," the duo write in Thursday's Minneapolis Star Tribune, "that the proposed repeal of the filibuster rule for judicial nominees by majority vote will profoundly and permanently undermine the purpose of the U.S. Senate as it has stood since Thomas Jefferson first wrote the Senate's rules. We join together, across party lines, in an urgent plea of support for the current Senate rules."

Senate rules as presently written, Durenberger and Mondale note:

"allow a screening of judges by the Senate. Most presidential nominees are confirmed, but there are always a few instances where the nominee is unable to obtain the Senate's approval. We think this process has been good for the judiciary and good for the country. This Senate rule has led to a stronger, less partisan, truly independent court. Weaknesses in judicial nominees are usually exposed in bipartisan Judiciary Committee hearings. If presidential pressure forces a partisan vote on the floor, you can often count on a bipartisan vote on the floor not to confirm. Both of us have seen this happen and value this exercise of checks and balances."

The nuclear option and the loss of the filibuster "will diminish the status of each senator and it will lead to further discord in American public life. The courts will be seen less as independent tribunals that transcend politics and instead will become, increasingly, agents of political passions," the former senators warn.

"America is blessed to have a superb federal bench. This didn't happen under the rash partisan system the changed rule will permit; it happened under the Senate's longstanding rules that allow the minority to have the power to delay and question each nominee. Both of us were a part of the Senate operating under the current rules of debate and we strongly advocate for their preservation.

Americans are already deeply concerned by the harshness and belligerence of American politics. Our federal courts are one of the few places left where issues are heard and rationally debated and decided under the law. Our courts have been a fundamental part of America's success. Our judges have succeeded not because they were enthusiastic agents of the current political power, but precisely because they were not; they represented the best and most balanced legal talent our nation could offer.

Let's keep it this way."


At 9:08 PM, Blogger UrbanRepublican said...

I am enjoying your site and as another Moderate republican like to see others of us out there. I firmly belive that most people in this country are actually Moderate republican or democrats.

This was good to see that someone is making sense on the fillibuster. Some of the democrats didn't like it in the 80s and 90s and now the republicans don't like it. That should show exactly the reason we don't want to get rid of it. Neither party will always be in power and when you are the minority you are going to want it as an available option.


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