Jun 20 2005

Ramp UP for US SC Nominationa

Published by at 11:04 am under All General Discussions,Filibuster Showdown

There is a distinct possibility that the first US SC retirement could come as early as next week ,as predictions fly that Rehnquist may finally step down. Both sides are gearing up for the battle royale that will take place in the Senate:

Like hostile nations on the edge of apocalypse, Washington’s political right and left are on code red over a Supreme Court vacancy that does not yet exist.
Conservative groups held a briefing last week at the National Press Club and promised to spend more than $20 million promoting whomever President Bush nominates to replace Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, should the ailing chief justice retire at the end of the court’s term in June, as many expect. The liberal group People for the American Way countered with the threat of its 45-computer war room on M Street and a coalition of 70 other groups to fight back.

Caught in the middle was the White House, which had its own war plan but would not say so publicly for fear of looking ghoulish. After all, the intentions of the 80-year-old chief justice, who has undergone radiation and chemotherapy treatments for thyroid cancer, remain mysterious.

There are some good arguments that an announcement this month on a retirement may not result in an immediate act to join battle:

Mr. Cornyn’s name was recently floated by conservatives as a long-shot possibility for the court; last week he said that it might be better for Mr. Bush to announce his nominee in September and not leave the person “hanging out like a piñata for people to take a whack at during the month we’re in recess.”

More on the strategies that are being put in place now are at the Los Angeles Times:

The Senate has not filled a high-court vacancy since 1994, when President Clinton’s nomination of Stephen G. Breyer was easily confirmed. The last contested nomination involved Clarence Thomas, who narrowly won confirmation in 1991.

Both sides are retooling their strategies and tactics to fit changes in the political and media environment since the early 1990s.

For instance, more than half of the Senate’s 100 members

Add to this the Gang of 14 filibuster deal made last month and we have all the makings of a wild political summer. For those of us in the Coalition of the Chillin’ it will be the moment we see if the GOP and moderates can hold the line and make progress, or whether the GOP will have to go back to the constitutional option of removing the filibuster rule from judicial confirmation process. It should be noted the filibuster is not allowed in the most important legislative efforts in the Senate – that of course being the budget where policy is turned into commitment to execute the policy.

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