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He may be one of the loudest voices supporting the filibuster now, but less than five years ago, Senator Pat Leahy sang a different song on the floor of the Senate. According to the Congressional Record and an intrepid CQ reader, Leahy showed far more sympathy for the plight of judicial nominees back when Clinton did the nominating. Incredibly, he relied on then-Governor Bush's argument during the 2000 campaign that all nominees should receive an up-or-down vote to make this statement during the Senate debate on James Teilborg:
Both parties have nominated those we consider to be our best choices. Obviously, I strongly support my friend of over 20 years, AL GORE. But I also know that the Republican Party has nominated a very distinguished Governor, George W. Bush.
I mention this because Governor Bush and I, while we disagree on some issues, have one very significant issue on which we agree. He gave a speech awhile back and criticized what has happened in the Senate where confirmations are held up not because somebody votes down a nominee but because they cannot ever get a vote. Governor Bush said: You have the nominee. Hold the hearing. Then, within 60 days, vote them up or vote them down. Don't leave them in limbo.
Frankly, that is what we are paid to do in this body. We are paid to vote either yes or no--not vote maybe.
When we hold a nominee up by not allowing them a vote and not taking any action one way or the other, we are not only voting ``maybe'' but we are doing a terrible disservice to the man or woman to whom we do this. They have to put their life on hold. They do not know what is going to happen: Are they going to be confirmed, or not? It is not like when any one of us runs for election; we know that on a certain day the election occurs.
We either win or we lose. But we know that on that Tuesday, we are going to know our fate. We won or we lost.
These people come here and they never know what may happen. They don't know whether they will have a hearing. And if they have a hearing, they don't know if there will be a vote in committee. And if there is a vote in committee, they don't know whether they will come on the floor. And if they come on the floor, they don't know if they will have a vote because one person hiding in the Cloakroom will say: Don't allow it to come to a vote yet. So they may have 99 Senators voting for them but somebody mysteriously in the background says ``Don't vote,'' and they don't vote.
Helene White of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has been pending for 1,360 days. Governor Bush said we ought to have a vote up or down within 60 days. Let's have a vote on Helene White. She has been waiting not 60 days, not 600 days, but 1,360 days.
Kathleen McCree Lewis, who has been nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, an outstanding African American woman, who has one of highest ratings of anybody we have ever seen come before the Senate, has been waiting for 370 days. Not the 60 days we talked about, but more than six times the 60 days. Bonnie Campbell, for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, has been spending for more than 215 days.
Well, Senator Leahy, now we have two candidates who have waited for more than 1480 days, and several more that have waiting for over 700 days for their vote. They began queuing up less than 220 days after you spoke these words on the floor of the Senate. You even invoked George Bush's attempt to create a bipartisan consensus that all judicial nominees who cleared committee should receive an up-or-down vote within 60 days of their initial approval.
Were you serious, Senator? Or were you blowing hot air then, and blowing it now as well?Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Time to vote! from CrosSwords
An interesting article from The Captain that quotes from the Congressional Quarterly. Be careful what you say on the Senate Floor, Senator Leahy. Some of us expect Senators to be consistent! It is time to vote these judges up or down. Bob... [Read More]
Tracked on May 11, 2005 9:10 PM
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