JUDICIARY WARS….An awful of people have been wishing for an awful long time that nice guy Tom Daschle would start playing hardball, and I guess we’ve now gotten our wish:
Senate Democrats, turning up the heat in their long-simmering feud with President Bush over judicial nominations, vowed on Friday to block all new federal court appointments unless the White House promises to stop installing judges while Congress is in recess.
“We will be clear,” the Democratic leader, Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, told his colleagues Friday morning in a pointed speech on the Senate floor. “We will continue to cooperate in the confirmation of federal judges, but only if the White House gives the assurance that it will no longer abuse the process.”
Yep, that’s all new federal judges. Basically, it’s sort of like a sit-down strike that promises to bring the entire Judiciary Committee to a grinding halt.
The origin of this controversy sometimes seems lost in the mists of time, but if memory serves, here’s the timeline:
Democrats bring all judicial hearings to a halt in retaliation for….
President Bush making recess appointments of two judges, thus bypassing the normal Senate confirmation process. This was in retailiation for….
Senate Democrats filibustering a half dozen judges in retaliation for….
Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch playing partisan games with the blue slip rule, changing it depending on whether a Democrat or a Republican happened to be in the White House. (This is important even though it’s obscure. A handy summary chart is here.)
With this history in mind, I will once again propose the Great Blue Slip Truce of 2004 (formerly the GBST of 2003): if one blue slip was good enough for Orrin Hatch when he first took control of the Judiciary Committee in 1995, it’s good enough now. So: Hatch returns to the 1995 status quo and the Democrats agree to stop filibustering. Bush then has no need to do recess appointments and the Dems can let the Judiciary Committee continue with its business.
Whaddaya think? Is that a good plan or what? Does anyone have Orrin Hatch’s phone number handy?