Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006



Yesterday Michael Gerhardt and Erwin Chemerinsky, law professors at William & Mary and Duke respectively, coauthored a piece in the Los Angeles Times regarding the "nuclear option". The possible move "entails procedural moves culminating in a ruling by the Senate's presiding officer — Vice President Dick Cheney — declaring filibusters of judicial nominations unconstitutional. Democrats may appeal the ruling to the full Senate, but only 51 votes are needed to uphold it. With 55 members next year, Republicans believe that they will have sufficient numbers to uphold such a ruling."

Gerhardt and Chemerinsky are alarmed by the possibility and allege "Republicans apparently want to give Bush the unique legacy of 100% success in confirming his judicial nominations." What the two fail to mention is the unprecedented frequency with which the minority party has used the filibuster to thwart the President's nominations from moving toward a vote by the full Senate.

Republicans have been similarly cautious on the prospect of letting the genii out of the bottle and conservative instincts should advise caution before playing this card.

Then comes word today that incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has sent a warning shot across the bow of the White House. 'Don't even think about nominating Clarence Thomas for Chief Justice' is the message. The reason? "I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written. I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice." Remarkably, Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the Press did not think this explosive accusation merited any justification.

To his credit, Majority Leader Frist is keeping the "nuclear option" in his quiver. "I will pursue every option that I have. And there are several options that we have."


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