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I hear that Senator Frist just gave a speech on the Senate floor, proposing a compromise on judges.  Any news on Democratic response?

Text of speech (stolen from NRO's The Corner) after the fold.

Throughout the judicial obstruction debate, emotions have run high on both sides. This should remind all of us, once again, of the need to return civility to our nation's capital.

The American people want their elected leaders to work together to find solutions. To them -- doing what's Republican or Democrat matters far less than doing what's right for our country.

Let me briefly discuss how we got here.

Never in 214 years -- never in the history of the Senate -- had a judicial nominee with majority support been denied an up-or-down vote...until two years ago.

In the last Congress, the President submitted 34 appeals court nominees to the Senate. A minority of senators denied ten of those nominees -- and threatened to deny another six -- up-or-down votes.

They wouldn't allow votes, because they knew the nominees would be confirmed and become judges. The nominees had the support of a majority of senators.

Now, in this new Congress, the same minority says it will continue to obstruct votes on judges. And, even worse, if they don't get their way, they threaten to shut down the Senate and obstruct government itself.

Throughout this debate, we have held firm to a simple principle -- judicial nominees deserve up-or-down votes. Vote for them. Vote against them. But give them the courtesy of a vote.

Yet judicial nominees have not been given that courtesy. They've gone 2, 3, even 4 years without a vote. Now 46 seats on the federal bench are vacant -- as case after case and appeal after appeal stack up.

One nominee -- Priscilla Owen -- has served 10 years as a justice on the Texas Supreme court. She won reelection with 84% of the vote in Texas, yet she can't get the courtesy of a vote to be confirmed by the Senate.

Judicial nominees are being denied. Justice is being denied. The solution is simple -- allow Senators to do their jobs and vote.

In the spirit of civility and with sincere hope for a solution, I make an offer.

This offer will ensure up or down votes on judicial nominees after fair, open, and, some might say, exhaustive debate. It's a compromise that holds to constitutional principles.

First, never in the history of the Senate had a judicial nominee with majority support been denied an up-or-down vote until two years ago. However, it was not unprecedented either for Republicans or Democrats to block judicial nominees in committee.

Whether on the floor or in committee, judicial obstruction is judicial obstruction. It's time for judicial obstruction to end no matter which party controls the White House or the Senate.

The judiciary committee will continue to play its essential oversight and investigative roles in the confirmation process. But the committee -- whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats -- will no longer be used to obstruct judicial nominees.

Second, fair and open debate is a hallmark of the Senate. Democrats have expressed their desire for more time to debate judicial nominees. I respect that request and honor it.

When a judicial nominee comes to the floor, we will set aside up to 100 hours to debate that nomination. Then the Senate as a whole will speak with an up-or-down vote.

The Senate operated this way before we began to broadcast debates on television in 1986. This would provide more than enough time for every Senator to speak on a nominee while guaranteeing that nominee the courtesy of a vote.

Third, these proposals will apply only to appeals court and Supreme Court nominees. Judges who serve on these courts have the awesome responsibility of interpreting the Constitution.

So far, only up-or-down votes on appeals court nominees have been denied. I sincerely hope the Senate minority does not intend to escalate its judicial obstruction to potential Supreme Court nominees.

That would be a terrible blow to constitutional principles and to political civility in America. I hope my offer will make it unnecessary for the minority to further escalate its judicial obstruction.

Fourth, the minority of senators who have denied votes on judicial nominees are concerned that their ability to block bills will be curbed. As Majority Leader, I guarantee that power will be protected.

The filibuster -- as it existed before its unprecedented use on judicial nominees in the last Congress -- will remain unchanged.

Senator Reid and I have been talking almost every day on this issue. And I'm hopeful he'll accept my offer as a solution. It may not be a perfect proposal for either side, but it's the right proposal for America.

For 70% of the 20th Century, the same party controlled the White House and the Senate. Yet no minority ever denied a judicial nominee with majority support an up-or-down vote until the last Congress.

These minorities showed self-restraint. They treated judicial nominees with fairness. And they respected the Senate's role in the appointments process -- as designed by the Framers of the Constitution.

Resolving the judicial obstruction debate, for me, isn't about politics. This is about constitutional principles. It's about fairness to nominees. It's about Senators doing their duty and doing what's right for our country.

Arbitrarily voting on just a few judicial nominees, as some have proposed, will fail to restore the Senate's 214 year practice of up-or-down votes for all judicial nominees that come to the floor.

Senators have a duty to vote up-or-down on judicial nominees -- confirm them or deny them -- but give them all the courtesy of a vote.

Update: I figured out how to make a text box.

Originally posted to Peace Monger on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 11:57 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  More of the Same from Bilbo Frist (none)
    "Blah-blah-blah never been denied an up-or-down vote blah-blah-blah".

    It's all BULLSHIT.  Democrats - just say "NO" to fascism!!

  •  Reid's response (none)
    Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said he would look at Frist's offer, but wasn't all that charitable in his description. "It's a big wet kiss to the far right," he said.


  •  With majority support (none)
    I love how the Repubs qualify their staunch position about every nominee deserving an up or down vote.

    Never in 214 years -- never in the history of the Senate -- had a judicial nominee with majority support been denied an up-or-down vote...until two years ago.

    The people should be the ultimate judge of a judicial nominee or any other for that matter.  In order to determine if a nominee has majority support at least a majority of Senators have to be polled by someone.  Why should this vote not be public?

    The position really is every judicial nominee deserves an up or down vote unless the majority decides they don't.

    I said, "Step pause turn pause pivot step step", not, "Step pause turn pause pivot step pause"! Ugh... shudder!

    by Blue Neponset on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:08:23 PM PDT

  •  For want of 5 votes (none)
    The 55-vote Republican majority could have an up-or-down vote on ANY filibustered nominee, just by getting 5 Democrats to vote to end debate. They DON'T want those five votes, they want NINE Supreme Court judges.

    Just Say No!!!

    Talk doesn't cook rice -- Chinese Proverb

    by OldYellerDog on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:08:35 PM PDT

  •  Frist offers (none)
    100 hours of debate on each nominee.  Fine. Accept the offer, and use every minute of the 100 hours.

    That would mean that, for each nominee, we would have 2.5 40-hour weeks.  The senate would confirm, at that rate, 20 judges in a year.  Of course, to do that, no other business would be accomplished.  

    I say that the Dems should accept this offer.  Then make sure that the terms of the offer are fulfilled, for each and every single nominee.

  •  Yeah (none)
    like if the dems win the white house in 2008 and if republicans hold the senate, they'll keep to their bargain that they wont obstruct in committee. especially since mr. deal maker wont even be in the senate then.
  •  How is this a compromise? (none)
    It is packed with lies concerning the "unprecedented" use of the filibuster to block judicial nominations.

    Mr. Catkiller, you fucking lied yet again, so no deal.  Go fuck yourself bitch.  

    To find his equal, an Irishman is forced to talk to God.

    by Delaware Dem on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:14:09 PM PDT

  •  Clearly, a sign the Dems are winning (none)
    Having rebuffed the "compromise" offered by Dems earlier this week, Frist feels he has to offer his own compromise, which is transparently bogus--Repubs get all the judges they want and Dems get to ... talk themselves silly.
  •  It's a staring contest.... (none)
    And Frist just blinked.
  •  He lies as usual (none)
    First Republicans have filibustered judges Fortas and Paez.

    Secondly, many of Clinton appointees would have been approved by the full Senate and that's why they were bottled up in the committee.

    What I think would be wonderful is if the filibuster was broken and then these nominees were rejected by the full Senate, but since that won't happen we need to keep the filibuster.

    By the way, does he mean 100 consecutive hours (just over 4 days) or 100 Senate in session hours so would not include nights and weekends or recess hours?  And I think the VP should have to sit there the whole time.

    Bush, so incompetent, he can't even do the wrong things right.

    by JAPA21 on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:21:56 PM PDT

  •  No compromise... (none)
    No extremists on the bench no matter what!
  •  Why don't you rapture yourself away, Frist.. (none)
    He's full of shit - and continues to ignore facts.

    First, never in the history of the Senate had a judicial nominee with majority support been denied an up-or-down vote until two years ago.

    A Democrat majority was set to approve Abe Fortas as SCOTUS Chief Justice in 1968 - and Republicans filibustered.

    Joe Lieberman and Lincoln Chafee are on NOTICE - Rosa Delauro and Sheldon Whitehouse for Senate 2006!

    by Scoopster on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:22:47 PM PDT

  •  The lie (none)
    Never in 214 years -- never in the history of the Senate -- had a judicial nominee with majority support been denied an up-or-down vote...until two years ago.

    How does Frist know the 60+ judges nominated by Clinton and blocked in committee didn't have majority support?

    Why is it fair for a handful of Senators--sometimes even a single Senator--to block five dozen  Democratic-appointed judges but it's undemocratic for 45 Senators to block ten (5%) of Bush's nominees?

  •  Reid (none)
    Check out Reid's statement on his site today. It's not the text of his speech on the floor, but it is a response to Frist and the Republicans. It's titled Democrats Pledge To Fight For "Promise of America".

    "This is about priorities," said Democratic Leader Harry Reid. "The Republican party's priorities are way out of line. They are willing to fight for seven radical judges, but they can't fight for a budget that meets the needs of our schools, our cops and our veterans. Republicans are abusing their power and leaving working Americans to fend for themselves. The American people have a very different set of priorities and so do Democrats."

    At the event, the Democrats outlined the priorities they will continue to fight for, even if the Republicans insist on breaking the rules to change the rules in the Senate.

    "President Bush, Senator Frist, and Majority Leader DeLay are on a quest for absolute power in Washington, even if it means corrupting our government and the vision of our founding fathers," said Harry Reid. "While Republicans corrupt our government, Democrats will fight to protect our constitutional checks and balances and basic fairness for the American people."

    Should Republicans insist on going forward with the "nuclear" option, the Democrats maintained they will focus the Senate on legislation that addresses the promise of America and concerns of working Americans, including:

    [list of bills]

    It's definitely worth reading.

    "I have lived with several Zen masters -- all of them cats." - Eckhart Tolle

    by catnip on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:34:43 PM PDT

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