Dayton v. Kennedy

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

1/03/2005

Sessions In Session

In the wake of Mark Dayton's D.C. evacuation in October, his colleague from Alabama, Jeff Sessions, wrote Majority Leader Frist asking that "I suggest that you... allocate his Russell office space to me so that my fine staff can make productive use of what would otherwise be idle property."

It seems increasingly likely that Sessions will have his wish if he can hold on for another 22 months. In today's USA Today, Sessions (a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee) reprises the case that those Democrats who would oppose Bush's nominees in the 109th Congress may well share in the fate of their former leader:

President Bush was right to say he will renominate the 20 superb judicial candidates who were denied floor votes by an unprecedented use of the filibuster. Few would dispute that the obstruction of Bush nominees played to the political advantage of Bush and Republican Senate candidates and was an important factor in Republicans' picking up four seats. The leader of the Democratic obstructionism, Tom Daschle, lost his seat. And the one Democrat who won in a competitive race, Ken Salazar of Colorado, pledged not to filibuster nominees.

Whatever one thinks of gay marriage, partial-birth abortion or the Boy Scouts, voters understand that democracy is diminished when un-elected judges set social policy for America. Good judges are not partisans, but fair arbiters of disputes. Bush correctly believes that judges should show restraint and not manipulate court opinions to promote political agendas.

Most important, the 20 individuals Bush intends to renominate are not divisive candidates. Bill Pryor has the support of every major political figure in Alabama, black and white, Republican and Democrat. Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen was endorsed by every major newspaper in Texas. And California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown was re-elected with a higher percentage of votes than any other judicial candidate in California.

USA TODAY should not complain about Bush's action, but should encourage Senate Democrats to crawl back off the limb on which they are perched. It is the Democrats' policies that are threatening collegiality and are contrary to the history of the Senate since its founding. The people heard the debate and spoke clearly. There could be no doubt that Bush would renominate these quality candidates.

There is a strong need to generate more bipartisan work in the Senate to deal with such important issues as Social Security reform and the war on terrorism. But Bush should not be expected to acquiesce in the Democrats' shocking filibuster tactics because that would be contrary to his deeply held beliefs about the judiciary, which he stated repeatedly on the campaign trail.

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