Liberal and Democrat hypocrisy on the Senate filibuster is, well, nuclear. The RNC has this excellent page of videos of then Democrat Senators -- including Obama, Biden, Clinton and, of course Harry Reid -- opposing any changes to the filibuster. But what is the issue? National Review explained it this way?
What is the filibuster? It is “a time-honored Senate procedure that prevents a bare majority of senators from running roughshod,” according to our friends on the New York Times editorial page. But that was in 2005, when Republicans frustrated over Democratic filibusters of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominations were (with National Review’s support) considering the so-called nuclear option, the overblown name of which suggests that it is rather more than a change in the Senate’s procedural rules. The Times denounced the Republicans’ “rank hypocrisy” in 2005, as did any number of Democrats. Having reversed themselves at the dictates of convenience, they show themselves to be hypocrites on the matter at hand and also on the subject of hypocrisy — call it hypocrisy squared.
The Democrats here are helping themselves to ill-gotten gains. Using the filibuster and other stalling techniques, they kept judicial vacancies open by closing them to Bush nominees. Miguel Estrada was kept off of the D.C. Court of Appeals by a filibuster; Democrats refused to process John Roberts’s nomination to the same court (to succeed James Buckley, the gentleman previously known in these pages as the sainted junior senator from New York). Later, when Roberts was named to the Supreme Court, Democrats blocked George W. Bush’s nominee for his replacement, Peter D. Keisler. Roberts’s earlier nomination advanced only after Republicans took control of the Senate, something that Harry Reid in his hubris seems to think will never happen again.
As Curt Levey explains despite the Democrats then unprecedented filibusters of Republican nominees:
When Senate Democrats originated the practice of filibustering judicial nominees during George W. Bush’s presidency, Republicans were tempted to use the nuclear option to kill the judicial filibuster and approve nominees with a simple majority vote. But after much debate and hand-wringing, Republicans decided that short-term expediency could not justify destroying the filibuster, a tradition that for centuries made the Senate a more deliberative and bipartisan body than the House.
Republicans may not be faultless on this issue but they are not the hypocrites that the Democrats are. However, this is a much deeper problem than hypocrisy, it is an effort to pack the courts to protect and enlarge President Obama’s illegal agenda. The Democrats will soon try to add three completely unnecessary judges to the DC Circuit.
In fact, look at the numbers from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. In 2006, written decisions per active judge had declined by 17 percent since 1997. Since 2006 they have declined another 27 percent. In 2006, the total number of appeals filed had declined by 10 percent since 1997. Since 2006 they have declined another 18 percent. The Administrative Office ranks the twelve circuits using various caseload benchmarks: 2013 is the 17th straight year that the office has ranked the D.C. Circuit last on both appeals being filed and appeals being terminated. There simply is no need for more judges on the D.C. Circuit when those there now do not have enough to do — unless, of course, the aim is to have a bench more sympathetic to rule by presidential diktat, which may be precisely why Senator Reid wants to go nuclear.
Democrats are acting like they will never be in the minority again. Well not all Democrat Senators.
The Senate’s red-state Democrats, who can no longer hide behind cloture votes and will now be forced to openly support or oppose Obama’s most radical judicial nominees, have a lot to lose from Reid’s brazen move. It is no coincidence that Senator Mark Pryor (D., Ark.), who is facing a tough reelection fight, voted with Republicans today after facing a barrage of ads tying him to Obama’s worst judicial appointments. Opponents of other red-state Democrats running for reelection next year — Landrieu, Hagan, and Begich for example — will surely take note.
I am worried about the consequences of killing the judicial filibuster. But I am also hopeful that it marks a return to the political dynamics of a decade ago, when Karl Rove said, “There’s no doubt in my mind that we won races all throughout the country [on the judges issue].”
And if the Republicans take the Senate back:
Conservatives have more of a stake than liberals do in the legislative filibuster as a check on the political passions of the moment. But the Democrats who rewrote Senate rules on Thursday should also understand that they have now opened the door to repeal ObamaCare with only 51 votes.
Here’s to hoping Harry Reid and President Obama pay a heavy price in the 2014 elections.