Written by Colin Patrick
Over the past few months, Senator Bill Frist has orchestrated a massive partisan assault. Only this time it was not against terrorism; it was on our constitution. Senator Frist and other conservative Republicans have attempted to deny the Democrats their constitutional right to filibuster, or block potential justices who they feel are out of the mainstream. As the debate rages on, it has become apparent that Senator Frist and many of his cronies are showing disdain and disparagement toward the Democratic minority and their constituents.
Conservative Republicans continue to champion the notion that every justice deserves an up or down vote. However, they performed the same tactics to block 69 of Clinton’s judicial nominees, whereas Democrats have only blocked 10 of Bush’s. Democrats have approved 208, or 95 percent of President Bush’s nominees, but he wants a rubber stamp for every nominee he puts before senate.
Senator Frist is trying to disenfranchise the opinion of the minority. Perhaps it is time to restore the rhetoric of the commonwealth and rise up against Frist’s and the Republicans’ attempt at tyranny. As Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said, “They will have to choose between their partisan interests or the people’s interests.” I for one want my voice to be heard. I understand there must be a compromise between both sides, but this president and this senate majority leader have routinely ignored offers to compromise from Patrick Leahy, ranking democrat on the Judiciary Committee, as well as Reid.
Surely Republican Senator Orrin Hatch has not forgotten the compromise he made with President Clinton when he was the Judiciary Committee chair. The compromise over now Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer set a bi-partisan precedent that even allowed Clinton to balance the 1999 federal budget. It is too bad that President Bush squelched his own campaign promise to be a bi-partisan unitary. Now, thanks to Bush’s unabashed pandering to right-wing ideologues, this country is more divided than ever.
The Republicans’ argument for needing to enforce an up or down vote is that senators consider each nominee in an independent way. Well, when you look at the numbers it seems Republican senators intend approve any of the president’s nominees. In fact, only one, former Majority Leader Trent Lott, has dissented. Lott voted no for Roger Gregory, a Clinton nominee holdover and the first African American to serve on the fourth circuit of appeals.
By filibustering, Democrats are protecting the views of their constituents and defending the principles of our democracy. They are ensuring the opinion of the people is heard, not disregarded.