Friday, May 29, 2009

When did empathy become a bad thing?

Senator: "I'd like to ask you why you want this job?"

SUPREME COURT NOMINEE THOMAS: "I believe, Senator, that I can make a contribution, that I can bring something different to the Court, that I can walk in the shoes of the people who are affected by what the Court does."


The President, nominating him: "He is a delightful and warm, intelligent person who has great empathy and a wonderful sense of humor. He's also a fiercely independent thinker with an excellent legal mind, who believes passionately in equal opportunity for all Americans. "

(Of course, one must not rush into things ...)

From The Christian Science Monitor:

"We will thoroughly examine her record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law evenhandedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences," said Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

"The American people deserve a full and thoughtful debate about the proper role of a judge in the American legal system," added Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

Republicans urged the Obama administration and Senate Democrats not to rush the nomination into hearings. They said they want time to undertake a complete investigation.

How much wiser they are today than they were four years ago ...

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH)

"'There never was a filibuster of a majority-supported judicial nominee until a couple of years ago... It is inconsistent with the Constitution and with the Framers' intent as documented in the Federalist Papers and the notes of James Madison." [Portsmouth Herald, "N.H. voice key on filibusters," 5/19/2005]

"From a constitutional perspective, judicial nominations have the right to an up or down vote in the Senate, and the filibustering of these nominations is inconsistent with over 200 years of tradition in the Senate and distorts our system of checks and balances." [Portsmouth Herald, "N.H. voice key on filibusters," 5/19/2005]

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

"All we are asking is the 214-year tradition of the Senate that judicial nominees not be filibustered be followed. That has been the tradition of the Senate up until President Bush became President. All we are asking is that every one of these qualified nominees who have reached the floor receive an up-or-down vote. That is all we are asking." [Senate Floor Speech, 4/27/05]

"...I think we should bind both Democrats and Republicans that presidential nominees for the judiciary deserve an up-and-down vote once they reach the floor..." [NPR, "Orrin Hatch Discusses Debate in Senate," 5/19/05]

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)

"In all these cases, she had a majority of votes in the Senate for confirmation, but she is not on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today. Why? Because her nomination is being filibustered by Democrats, and she has been held to a standard of 60 votes instead of 51. That is changing the Constitution of the United States. [...] It is not the rule that is being changed in this debate. It is the precedent of the Senate, for 200 years, that was changed in the 108th Congress, by requiring 60 votes for the confirmation of judges. And we are now looking to reaffirm the will of the Senate to do exactly what the Constitution envisions; and that is, a 51-vote majority for judges. Two hundred years of Senate precedent is being torn apart. Through Democrat majority control and Republican majority control over the years-the filibuster was not used as it was in the last session of Congress." [Senate Floor Speech, 4/27/05]

"They have gotten away with obstructing by exploiting the filibuster and denying Justice Owen a direct vote. Now, unfortunately, we must take action to ensure President Bush's nominees are getting the up-or-down vote they deserve." [San Antonio Express-News, "Senate showdown looms on judges," 4/22/2005]

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