Saturday, March 19, 2005

OMISSION OF FACTS

There isn't enough time in the day to keep up with the misleading 'facts' that sprinkled the articles in the Bee. In an article by the Bee News Service on March 18 titled "Senate panel sets up a battle," the author makes it a point of mentioning twice that the Republicans are trying to "end the tradition of unlimited debate on presidential appointees" and may engage in a "sharp departure from the unlimited debate traditions."

First, there has never been an "unlimited debate tradition." Never. Debate ends if there are enough votes to invoke 'cloture.' Senate rules establish that in order to vote on any measure under consideration by the Senate, the debate process must be stopped by a vote of at least 60 Senators. The vote is otherwise known as 'cloture.'

Second, according to Senator Orrin Hatch, the percentage of cloture votes used for judicial nominations jumped 900 percent during President Bush's first term compared to the previous 25 years. While the article in the Bee noted the "tradition" of "unlimited debate," it failed to tell the reader that the Senate rules regarding cloture votes has been changed multiple times.

The initial rules of the Senate provided that there would have to be unanimous agreement before debate would end. Specifically because the minority used this rule to prevent vote from occurring, the rule was changed in 1917 to require a 2/3 majority to end debate. The tactic to prevent votes from occurring continued and the Senate changed the rule again in 1975 to require at least 60 votes to end debate.

And if tradition is important to the article's authors, why did the article not mention the "sharp departure" from the past in using the filibuster to block judicial appointments. A 900 percent increase is a friggin' "sharp departure."

The article ends with this selected factoid:

Since his election in 2000, Bush has had 204 of his 214 judicial nominee confirmed by the Senate, a confirmation rate of 95 percent, roughly the same as during the Clinton presidency.

This fact is inserted to make the point that nothing unusual is going on. This is so misleading. The problem is that the Democrats are using the filibuster to block the vote on nominees that everyone knows has the support of the majority of the Senate. Got it. The Democrats are using a procedural rule (note: not a constitutional requirement) to create a supermajority voting requirement for judicial confirmations. While the Bee makes it seem like everything is proceeding normally, what the authors don't say is that the filibuster is fast becoming an everyday tactic to use in the confirmation hearings.

4 Comments:

At 10:04 PM, Anonymous submit articles said...

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At 6:56 PM, Anonymous article authors said...

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At 5:41 PM, Anonymous article directories said...

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