The New York Times editorial board today, November 21, 2013, editorializing in favor of the judicial filibuster, at a time when we have a Democratic President and Senate majority: For five years, Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees . In a 52-to-48 vote that substantially altered the balance of power in Washington, the Senate changed its most infuriating rule and effectively ended the filibuster on executive and judicial appointments. From now on, if any senator tries to filibuster a presidential nominee, that filibuster can be stopped with a simple majority, not the 60-vote requirement of the past. That means a return to the democratic process of giving nominees an up-or-down vote , allowing them to be either confirmed or rejected by a simple majority. . . . . Republicans warned that the rule change could haunt the Democrats if they lose the White House and the Senate. But the Constitution gives presidents the right to nominate top officials in their administration and name judges, and says nothing about the ability of a Senate minority to stop them. ( The practice barely existed before the 1970s. ) Thank God we have a “return to the democratic process of giving nominees an up-or-down vote .” After all, the filibuster barely existed before the 1970s, meaning history is on the Democrats’ side in demanding an up-or-down vote! You know what’s coming, don’t you? Of course you do. The New York Times editorial board on May 18, 2005, editorializing against the judicial filibuster, at a time when we had a Republican President and Senate majority: Of all the hollow arguments Senate Republicans have made in their attempt to scrap the opposition’s right to have a say on President Bush’s judicial nominees, the one that’s most hypocritical insists that history is on their side in demanding a “simple up-or-down vote” on the Senate floor . Republicans and Democrats have used a variety of tactics, from filibuster threats to stealthy committee inaction on individual nominations, in blocking hundreds of presidential appointments across history, including about one in five Supreme Court nominees. This is all part of the Senate’s time-honored deliberative role and of its protection of minority rights, which Republican leaders would now desecrate in overreaching from their majority perch. . . . . Democrats have hardly been obstructionists in their constitutional role of giving advice and consent; they have confirmed more than 200 Bush nominees, while balking at a mere seven who should be blocked on the merits, not for partisan reasons. This is a worthy fight, and the filibuster is a necessary weapon, considering that these are lifetime appointments to the powerful appellate judiciary, just below the Supreme Court . In more than two centuries, only 11 federal judges have been impeached for abusive court behavior. Clearly, uninhibited Senate debate in the deliberative stage, with the minority’s voice preserved, is a crucial requirement . In 2005, we received dark warnings about the specter of divisive partisanship that would result from discarding those sacred rights of the political minority in the Senate: Senator Frist, with the help of Vice President Dick Cheney, would sidestep a Senate precedent requiring two-thirds’ approval for a rules change and instead have a simple majority strike down the filibuster on judicial nominees . He promises that there would be no effect on other legislation, but the damage would be incalculable. Democrats are already vowing procedural paybacks and gridlock. A few moderate senators from both parties – realizing that the Senate’s prestige is at stake, as much as its history – are seeking a compromise. We hope President Bush will step in to help find a solution. Otherwise, warns his fellow Republican Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the result will be the harmful crimping of minority rights in a proud deliberative body and “a dark, protracted era of divisive partisanship.” Today? If you’re in the minority, you’ll just have to suck it up — and making the change with a simple majority is just fine: From now on, voters will have to understand that presidents are likely to get their way on nominations if their party controls the Senate. . . . Democrats made the filibuster change with a simple-majority vote, which Republicans insisted was a violation of the rules. There is ample precedent for this kind of change , though it should be used judiciously. Comical hypocrisy from an unserious publication. P.S. When the last Democrat was president, in 1995, they felt the same way they do today : Once a rarely used tactic reserved for issues on which senators held passionate convictions, the filibuster has become the tool of the sore loser, dooming any measure that cannot command the 60 required votes. . . . Now is the perfect moment for them to unite with like-minded Democrats to get rid of an archaic rule that frustrates democracy and serves no useful purpose. They really don’t even try to pretend that hard to be interested in principle, do they?
The rest is here:
Hysterical Hypocrisy on Filibusters from the New York Times
John Fund asks if Obama is violating the Constitution with impunity: At last night’s annual Federalist Society dinner in Washington there was general agreement that Obama had violated the Constitution. “A president has discretion to prioritize which lawbreakers to prosecute in federal court, but there is no ‘enforcement discretion’ to determine which laws on the books he will enforce,” constitutional scholar Ken Klukowski told me. But the problem is that anyone wanting to challenge President Obama’s extra-constitutional action would have to show standing in court — some injury that would allow litigation to go forward. “He’s been clever about this,” Utah Senator Mike Lee told me. “If you are simply reducing legal burdens on people rather than curbing their behavior, it’s hard to prove an injury. It’s a dangerous precedent because it could give presidents a path to ignore laws they don’t like.” Everyone seems to think that these matters can only be resolved by lawsuits. But standing is famously difficult to establish in these situations. Justice Scalia once wrote to attempt to dispel the notion that the courts were the place to resolve a political branch’s overreaching: Our system is designed for confrontation. That is what “[a]mbition . . . counteract[ing] ambition,” The Federalist, No. 51, at 322 (J. Madison), is all about. If majorities in both Houses of Congress care enough about the matter, they have available innumerable ways to compel executive action without a lawsuit —- from refusing to confirm Presidential appointees to the elimination of funding. (Nothing says “enforce the Act” quite like “. . . or you will have money for little else.”) But the condition is crucial; Congress must care enough to act against the President itself, not merely enough to instruct its lawyers to ask us to do so. Placing the Constitution’s entirely anticipated political arm wrestling into permanent judicial receivership does not do the system a favor. And by the way, if the President loses the lawsuit but does not faithfully implement the Court’s decree, just as he did not faithfully implement Congress’s statute, what then? Only Congress can bring him to heel by . . . what do you think? Yes: a direct confrontation with the President. If I recall correctly, this passage was about whether Congress could force the President to defend a statute in court — but it could apply to Obama rewriting statutes to change effective dates of provisions, to conform to his electoral comfort. “[T]hey have available innumerable ways to compel executive action without a lawsuit —- from refusing to confirm Presidential appointees to the elimination of funding” — and if things get bad enough, they have . . . impeachment . There. I said it. Any way you slice it, we need to talk about Obama’s lawlessness. Nothing will happen if we don’t.
Sorry I missed Monday. That night it just slipped my mind and I went to bed! The purpose of patents is to encourage useful works. That’s not just my idea. It’s in the Constitution. That’s why anti-patent troll legislation makes sense. Apparently more and
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Tech at Night: Patent trolls strike back. ACLU goes too far against FISA.
Last Sunday on Meet the Press , Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York announced he will propose legislation to permanently take control of the debt limit away from Congress and give it to the president. It’s a dictator’s dream come true. The framers of the U.S. Constitution gave Congress alone power to borrow, tax, and decide how public revenues are spent. They wanted to prevent a president from spending excessively and saddling the public with huge debts. That’s what the despotic kings of Europe had done. Article 1 Sect. 8 states that “Congress shall have the Power To lay and collect Taxes…to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general welfare of the United States;