advise and consent

On Scalia Vacancy, GOP Should Follow Democrats’ Example

“The Constitution is not a living organism…It’s a legal document, and it says what it says and doesn’t say what it doesn’t say.” ~ Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

At about 8:45PM last Saturday night, I grabbed my favorite blanket and the remote and sat on the couch to watch the fireworks that were sure to be on display in the rancorous GOP presidential debate. I’d had a wonderful, news-free day out with my wife, and was not really in the mood to watch the debate, but I felt it was my obligation as a citizen, preparing to exercise my constitutional privilege to vote, to listen to each man make the case for their candidacy. I was gratified to watch as, unbidden, my 17, 15, 12, 11, and 6-year old children joined me.

Moments after the candidates had been introduced, the moderator asked his first question, and that was when I first learned of Scalia’s death. It was like a kick to the gut. My eyes opened wide in shock and I let out an audible gasp of dismay, and my eyes watered. Though Clarence Thomas edged out Justice Antonin Scalia as my favorite Supreme Court justice, it is inarguable that Scalia has been the anchor of the conservative wing of the court. His loss is devastating and cannot be overstated. His jurisprudential brilliance and his sharp wit were legendary, and even though he spent most of his career on the Court in the minority, he had more influence in the minority than his lesser colleagues had in the majority. Such was the high quality of his legal reasoning.

So…will turnabout be fair play?

There’s an old saying, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”  For the metaphorically impared among you, it means that if something is acceptable for one person to do, then it should be equally acceptable when another does the exact same thing.  Failure to adhere to this is generally called hypocrisy.

So, now that President Obama has made three recess appointments - you know, without Congress actually being in recess or anything - there is a factor out there that’s not really being discussed.  Sure, many people are arguing against the constitutionality of his actions, and rightly so.  However, the question I have is whether Democrats who are applauding this move now will do so when a Republican president tries it a few years down the road?

For the record, I’m going to guess that they won’t be as understanding.

This isn’t a new phenomenon in politics in the least.  Look at arguments against President Clinton getting us involved in Kosovo.  They look remarkably like arguments made against President Bush getting us involved in Iraq (including the idea that we should get United Nations support).  The only difference was the speakers.  On the flip side, the arguments for going into Kosovo were mirrored by the other side leading up to our invasion of Iraq.

The thing is, these kinds of moves only create a precedent by which the other side can try the exact same thing next time around.  However, many progressives are applauding the action.  Many conservatives are denouncing it.  I’m willing to bet that the next time around, the roles will be a complete 180 from where they are now and I would laugh if it wasn’t so tragic.

Obama’s power grab over recess appointments

Over the last year, the National Labor Relations Board has rightly riled Republicans and business owners alike due to its suit against Boeing. The suit, which sought to prevent the airline manufacturer from opening a new plant in South Carolina, had support from union thugs bosses and Democrats — including ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but was recently dropped after an agreement was reached; however, the precedent was set.

The damage continued last month as the NLRB forced through new rules that would, as Labor Union Report explains, “[strip] of due process from the minority of employers who challenge the validity of a union’s petitioned-for voting unit.”

Given these controverisal moves, you’d think President Barack Obama would tread carefully in an election year. But in an unprecendented move yesterday, he appointed three new members to the NRLB, bypassing the Senate confirmation process:

Senate Republicans block Goodwin Liu

Yesterday, Republicans were successful in their attempt to filibuster, by a vote of 53 to 43 (60 votes were needed for cloture), the nomination of Goodwin Liu to the Ninth District Court of Appeals:

Senate Republicans staged the first successful filibuster of a judicial nominee since 2005 on Thursday, dealing a blow to the Obama administration on the long-stalled nomination of Goodwin Liu to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The final vote was 52-43, eight votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome the filibuster. Only one Republican joined Democrats in supporting Liu, and only one Democrat voted no to opening debate on the 40-year-old University of California, Berkeley professor’s nomination.
[…]
Republicans have maintained that Liu’s liberal views on issues like same-sex marriage and affirmative action put him outside the mainstream, pointing to his writings that additional individual rights can be found in the Constitution.

Liu also drew Republican ire over his criticism of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in testimony when the conservative judge was nominated to the court.

“His outrageous attack on Judge Alito convinced me that Goodwin Liu is an ideologue,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said before Thursday’s vote. “His statement showed he has nothing but disdain for those who disagree with him. Goodwin Liu should run for elected office, not serve as a judge.”

The Wall Street Journal noted in an editoral against his confirmation that Liu would have been the “most left-wing judge ever”:


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