Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Wednesday Reads

The Christian Science Monitor has several excellent articles this morning: this on "the reemergence of a center that counts" in the Senate; this on how the filibuster 'fracas' may shape the 2008 presidential race, particularly the primaries; and this from Peter Grier on how it will be the next Supreme Court vacancy that really tests the compromise reached by the "Gang of 14." Also, check out the Bennett cartoon on their editorial page - a centrist classic - and their editorial on the meaning of 'extraordinary'. The CSM is an awfully under-mentioned publication, but its quality and centrist viewpoint make it well worth a perusal.

Judicial Nominations: Now that the nuclear option has been averted, things can get back to "normal" regarding the confirmation of judges. As I reported yesterday afternoon, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the nomination of Priscilla Owen, and a final vote on her confirmation will be held sometime today. The Washington Times, USA Today (here and here), LA Times (here, here, and here), Washington Post (here, here, and here) and New York Times (here, here and here) all cover the cloture vote, the compromise, and the reaction, as well as the bigger question of what further impact the "Gang of 14" will have. The big focus seems to have become what the meaning of the word "extraordinary" is: yesterday Senator McCain used the same formulation I have been using in conversations, "It's like child pornography, my friend. You know it when you see it." The WT also reports one interesting moment from yesterday's Senate debate:

"As the Senate clerk officially read the nomination under consideration, Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat who has been a key opponent of four of Mr. Bush's judicial nominees, arose and asked to make a 'parliamentary inquiry.'

Sen. John E. Sununu, New Hampshire Republican who was seated in the chair as the presiding officer, gave Mr. Levin the floor. Wanting to establish that judicial filibusters are legitimate because 60 votes are required to invoke cloture or end debate, Mr. Levin asked how many votes are required for cloture 'under the rules and precedence of the Senate.'

Mr. Sununu, a first-term senator, ignored Mr. Levin's inquiry. Ten seconds passed and still Mr. Sununu refused to answer Mr. Levin's question. 'Is there an answer to my parliamentary inquiry, Mr. President?' Mr. Levin asked again to no answer. After about a half-minute of ignoring Mr. Levin's request, the clerk began calling the roll for the vote on ending debate on Justice Owen's nomination." Wow.

Some editorial thoughts on the judicial nominations: Washington Times ("The arithmetic tells the story. The Democrats won ..."); Tony Blankley (take a guess); Ronald Cass ("Gang of 14" a 'super-minority"); David Broder ("The Monday night agreement to avert a showdown vote over judicial filibusters not only spared the Senate from a potentially ruinous clash, but also certified John McCain as the real leader of that body"); New York Times (compromise "was heartening in that it did demonstrate that moderates still exist in Washington, and actually have the capacity to work together to get things done").

The Washington Post's Peter Baker reports that the Senate compromise hasn't made the Bush administration any more likely to nominate a "consensus candidate" to any opening on the Supreme Court. If you're surprised, raise your hand.

Stem Cells: WT, USA Today, LA Times, WP, and NYT all cover yesterday's vote in the House to relax restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cells that would otherwise be discarded. The WP discusses the move into the Senate, where legislation backed by key Republicans Orrin Hatch and Arlen Specter (as well as many Democrats and other Republicans) is expected to pass, although Kansan Sam Brownback said yesterday he intends to filibuster it (Hatch and Specter suggested, and they're probably right, that they have the votes to break a filibuster already).

This quote from Chris Shays during the House debate is worth repeating: "I think it's time we recognized the Dark Ages are over. Galileo and Copernicus have been proven right. The world is in fact round; the Earth does revolve around the sun. I believe God gave us intellect to differentiate between imprisoning dogma and sound ethical science, which is what we must do here today."

Bolton: The NYT and LA Times, report on the "Dear Colleague" letter circulated by Senator Voinovich in opposition to Bolton's nomination. Like I suggested last night, though, chances that Bolton will be defeated all quite slim indeed. Debate on the nomination will begin today, with 40 hours equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. Frist has said he wants to complete action on the nomination this week, before the Senate goes into recess for Memorial Day.


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