Thursday, November 11, 2004


There's something about Specter

Much of the commentary on whether Senator Arlen Specter should be blocked from the Senate Judiciary Committee chairmanship (Stones Cry Out has the most detailed listing of blog posts) has involved people talking past each other, because the "dump" and "keep" sides are focusing on different issues of importance to Republicans and conservatives. Hugh Hewitt is not wrong to worry about pushing a moderate GOP Senator to leave the party or act like Zell Miller and endorse the Democrat ticket, and pretty much the entire staff of National Review is not wrong to worry about having a Judiciary chairman who is trying to water down the judicial nominations.

I think the White House seems to have the right idea from their lack of activity - they want Specter to agree to be a team player before the chairmanship is given to him. The comparison to the House passing over other members to hand the Appropriations chairmanship to Bob Livingston is not terribly helpful here, because individual Senators have a lot more power than individual House members - a Specter who feels seriously upset or any GOPers who took umbrage at his being passed over could very well slow down or stop much conservative legislation.

In my view, here is what Specter should be asked to commit to before being selected as Judiciary chair:

A commitment to stopping the practice of letting a Democrat block a nominee by refusing to "blue slip" the nominee.

A commitment to reform of the "hold" practice, including the abolition of anonymous holds.

A commitment to hold prompt hearings and votes on all nominees.

A commitment to oppose filibusters on the floor on any Bush judicial nominee.

A commitment to support filibuster reform, at least for nominations.

A commitment to support hearings on particular legislation if such is requested by a majority of the Senate GOP caucus.

I believe Senator Specter has sufficient honor that he would stand by his commitments.

Here's what's important about each commitment - it relates to process, rather than to substantive votes, and thus does not implicate individual conscience or belief. I don't want to create any litmus test on votes - sometimes the majority of the caucus can be wrong [coughcoughprescriptiondrugplancoughcough], but I do believe party discipline should extend to matters of organzation and rules.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?