Schumer and Leahy are in a fighting mood over stalled judicial nominations, and are putting Republicans on notice in the lead-up to the larger SCOTUS fight.
Two leading Democrats threatened Tuesday to keep the Senate in session overnight and through weekends if necessary to clear a backlog of federal judicial nominations.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., accused Republicans of engaging in a "pattern of obstruction and delay" regarding President Obama’s judicial nominations to the lower courts, which "is completely unprecedented."
The warning signals that Democrats intend to push forward with those nominees, even as the Senate prepares to consider whomever President Obama selects to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. The White House has invited Senate leaders of both parties, as well as of the Judiciary Committee, to an April 21 meeting to discuss that vacancy....
Leahy cited 22 judicial nominations that have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but who have not been taken up yet on the Senate floor.
"We are going to rev it up," said Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. "We are going to stay in as long as it takes even if means nights, even if it means weekends, to get these nominees through."
That's a fighting spirit that President Obama should take up when pondering his SCOTUS nominee, and a fight being encouraged by the normally pretty moderate Democrat Ed Kilgore
and Ruy Teixeira in a strategy memo at Democratic Strategist. Working from this premise:
The Republican right has a deeply disturbing covert extremist agenda for the Supreme Court – end the separation of church and state, undermine the legality of Social Security and Medicare and give individuals the right to ignore any laws they choose.
Teixeira and Kilgore argues that this is a fight Obama and the Democrats need to take on:
Democrats can – and must -- respond firmly and categorically to this extremist philosophy. They must respond by saying that the Democratic Party proudly upholds the traditional American view of the constitution – the view of the founding fathers of this country – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and John Adams.
1. That the constitution guarantees religious freedom and tolerance for all Americans of every faith and creed.
2. That the constitution guarantees the right of the freely elected representatives of the people in a democracy to pass laws for the common good. The people have the right to elect new representatives who promise to repeal laws with which they disagree, but not to simply ignore and violate laws of which they do not happen to approve
3. That the constitution protects individual liberty but is not a prescription for anarchy. It provides equal rights for all under a system of laws, but does not provide veto rights for anyone who happens to disagree with a particular law.
The battle between these two views is not a battle from which Democrats should shy away. Most Americans aren't likely to react well to the spectacle of conservatives demanding a virtual revolution against a popularly elected government, threatening to undermine the legal foundation of the social safety net many Americans depend on for their well-being and seeking to overturn constitutional doctrines that have been in place for many decades and even since the foundation of the Republic.
Republican strategists will desperately try to frame this debate as an argument between the "founding fathers" on the one hand and the "crazy liberal democrats" on the other. They will attempt to blur the distinction between the two fundamentally different visions of America embodied in the two interpretations of the constitution above.
Democrats should not let them get away with this deception. A substantial part of the Republican base deeply and sincerely believes in the three-pronged extremist agenda described above and will consider any attempt by the Republican leadership to shy away from those views as a betrayal tantamount to treason. If Democrats firmly and consistently demand that Republican leaders honestly say where they stand on these issues, the Republican coalition will become deeply fractured.
So if conservatives want to make a battle over Barack Obama’s next Supreme Court nominee, let them bring it on.
• Let them bring it on with all the rhetoric Tea Party folk and other radicalized conservatives have been using about Obama's "socialism" and the Nazi-like tyranny of universal health coverage.
• Let them bring it on with all the segregation-era legal strategies of succession and nullification.
• Let them bring it on with arguments that programs like social security and medicare are illegal and unconstitutional.
• Let them bring it on with all the attempts to write Thomas Jefferson and the separation of church and state out of American history.
The truth is that Democrats don’t want an ugly ideological battle over the next Supreme Court nominee. They would much rather focus on important economic issues like financial reform.
But if the Republicans insist on a fight, let’s stand ready to give them a battle they’ll wish they never started.
This is going to be a political fight because it's an election year. That means Republicans will make this an ideological battle whether Obama and Senate Dems want it or not. That Schumer and Leahy are willing to pick a fight over judicial nominees in general and the SCOTUS in particular is a good sign. Hopefully that mood will filter over to the White House. By choosing a nominee that will help Dems show the stark contrast between the parties, the contrast Kilgore
and Teixeira presents so well, Obama can show voters that they have a real choice in November.
Update: The strategy memo was written by Ed Kilgore at TDS as an institutional statement, and Teixeira didn't contribute. My error and apologies to Ed and Ruy.