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2 minutes ago, JDaveG said:

Serious question -- what would be the problem with 54 "no" votes?

On the surface, nothing.  But it's clear that most Republicans want to block the nominee - any nominee - for the sake of blocking it.  If their public pronouncements reflect their actual position - no nominee of any kind for any reason whatsoever - then the no votes are not substantive.  It's the same as refusing to have a hearing and a vote at all.  

If they find credible problems with the nominee - even if those problems are ideological extremity (if Obama appoints a strong liberal...or just a regular liberal) - then that's fine with me.  If Obama appoints a moderate or even slightly right of center nominee and they vote no, that's plain obstructionism.  

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Also, this is why McConnell, Grassley, and others were so stupid to come out two hours after Scalia's death with pronouncements that they would block any nominee from Obama.  That shifts the burden on them if they cave on a hearing and vote.  They have to prove that any "no" vote is based on legitimate problems with the nominee.  Otherwise, it looks to the public like they are blocking the nominee for political and strategic reasons.  

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2 minutes ago, Leon Troutsky said:

On the surface, nothing.  But it's clear that most Republicans want to block the nominee - any nominee - for the sake of blocking it.  If their public pronouncements reflect their actual position - no nominee of any kind for any reason whatsoever - then the no votes are not substantive.  It's the same as refusing to have a hearing and a vote at all.  

If they find credible problems with the nominee - even if those problems are ideological extremity (if Obama appoints a strong liberal...or just a regular liberal) - then that's fine with me.  If Obama appoints a moderate or even slightly right of center nominee and they vote no, that's plain obstructionism.  

Okay.  So what's the difference then?

Republicans are going to block any nominee.  Democrats would do (and have done) the same.  This very President who is going to do the nominating voted to filibuster the Alito nomination, not during an election year, not because he was unqualified, but because he didn't want Bush's appointee to sit.  So did the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Unless Bernie Sanders wins, this isn't about "credible problems" and never was.  It's about blocking ideologically opposed nominees.  Why can the Senate do that when Democrats are in power but not when Republicans are in power?

As for McConnell and Grassley and others, I don't think it was so stupid.  They avoided the whole "you're all racists for not voting for our nominee" argument entirely.  That is, they roadblocked Obama's ability to nominate a minority and then claim the opposition was based on race.

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Just now, JDaveG said:

Okay.  So what's the difference then?

Republicans are going to block any nominee.  Democrats would do (and have done) the same.  This very President who is going to do the nominating voted to filibuster the Alito nomination, not during an election year, not because he was unqualified, but because he didn't want Bush's appointee to sit.  So did the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Unless Bernie Sanders wins, this isn't about "credible problems" and never was.  It's about blocking ideologically opposed nominees.  Why can the Senate do that when Democrats are in power but not when Republicans are in power?

As for McConnell and Grassley and others, I don't think it was so stupid.  They avoided the whole "you're all racists for not voting for our nominee" argument entirely.  That is, they roadblocked Obama's ability to nominate a minority and then claim the opposition was based on race.

Except Democrats have not done the same.  Or at least you haven't shown an equivalent case where Democrats did the same - blocking any nominee regardless of ideology or qualifications.  

Obama cited ideological opposition to Alito, not a general principle of opposing any and all Bush nominees.  So that's not an equivalent situation.  Was he wrong to filibuster?  Yes.  Not the same as wholesale opposition for the sake of opposition.  Some Democrats were probably going to vote against any Bush nominee, but you cannot say the opposition was to Bush instead of the ideological bent of the nominee himself.  

We'll see how the politics plays out.  The public at large dislikes obstruction and disfunction in government.  And we're heading into a presidential election where more independents and minority groups show up.  A wholesale blocking of any nominee for any reason is going to put a lot of electoral pressure on the Republicans.

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3 minutes ago, JDaveG said:

Also, do you REALLY think Obama is going to nominate a slightly right-of-center nominee?

Right of center?  Probably not.  But the talk about Sri Srinivasin (sp?) points to a centrist, at least.  Obama probably won't pick someone on the liberal side, and he's be stupid if he did.

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42 minutes ago, Leon Troutsky said:

Except Democrats have not done the same.  Or at least you haven't shown an equivalent case where Democrats did the same - blocking any nominee regardless of ideology or qualifications.  

Obama cited ideological opposition to Alito, not a general principle of opposing any and all Bush nominees.  So that's not an equivalent situation.  Was he wrong to filibuster?  Yes.  Not the same as wholesale opposition for the sake of opposition.  Some Democrats were probably going to vote against any Bush nominee, but you cannot say the opposition was to Bush instead of the ideological bent of the nominee himself.  

We'll see how the politics plays out.  The public at large dislikes obstruction and disfunction in government.  And we're heading into a presidential election where more independents and minority groups show up.  A wholesale blocking of any nominee for any reason is going to put a lot of electoral pressure on the Republicans.

No.  No, the Democrats threaten to block all nominations in JUNE of an election year, while those dastardly Republicans have the temerity to do it in FEBRUARY.

Oh, and the Democrats never had a chance to act on their threat because Bush didn't appoint anyone else in 1992.

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41 minutes ago, Leon Troutsky said:

Right of center?  Probably not.  But the talk about Sri Srinivasin (sp?) points to a centrist, at least.  Obama probably won't pick someone on the liberal side, and he's be stupid if he did.

Specifics are good.  What in your mind makes Srinivasan a "centrist?"

I mean, I know he's argued on both sides of the fence, as most attorneys have.  But what about his judicial philosophy makes him a "centrist?"  Best I can tell, nobody knows what his judicial philosophy is.

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1 minute ago, JDaveG said:

No.  No, the Democrats threaten to block all nominations in JUNE of an election year, while those dastardly Republicans have the temerity to do it in FEBRUARY.

Oh, and the Democrats never had a chance to act on their threat because Bush didn't appoint anyone else in 1992.

And Joe Biden clarified a few days later that he was open to a moderate nominee.  Republicans haven't done that.  

And Democrats did confirm Anthony Kennedy in February 1988. 

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Just now, Leon Troutsky said:

And Joe Biden clarified a few days later that he was open to a moderate nominee.  Republicans haven't done that.  

And Democrats did confirm Anthony Kennedy in February 1988. 

So to be clear, moderate nominees need face no ideological opposition.  Depending upon how one defines "moderate" of course.

More ideological nominees, anything goes.  Is that roughly the case you're making?

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56 minutes ago, Leon Troutsky said:

On the surface, nothing.  But it's clear that most Republicans want to block the nominee - any nominee - for the sake of blocking it.  If their public pronouncements reflect their actual position - no nominee of any kind for any reason whatsoever - then the no votes are not substantive.  It's the same as refusing to have a hearing and a vote at all.  

If they find credible problems with the nominee - even if those problems are ideological extremity (if Obama appoints a strong liberal...or just a regular liberal) - then that's fine with me.  If Obama appoints a moderate or even slightly right of center nominee and they vote no, that's plain obstructionism.  

So what you're saying is  if the Republicans block Obama's Supreme Court Justice nominee the same way that Obama voted against Alito and Roberts, then that is a totally ****** thing to do? 

 

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1 minute ago, JDaveG said:

Specifics are good.  What in your mind makes Srinivasan a "centrist?"

I mean, I know he's argued on both sides of the fence, as most attorneys have.  But what about his judicial philosophy makes him a "centrist?"  Best I can tell, nobody knows what his judicial philosophy is.

The fact that he's represented Enron executives and done work on that side.  You're right, we don't know his philosophy for sure.  But based on what limited info we have he doesn't appear to be a liberal in the mold of Sotomayor or Kagan.  As I said, it points to a centrist.  Didn't say he was absolutely a centrist, only that the talk is that it's not a devout liberal.  We'll have to wait and see who he nominates.  But that's the point entirely...most Republicans have said "no" to anybody for any reason, to the point of threatening to not even have a hearing or a vote on the nominee before a person is named.

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Just now, kicker said:

So what you're saying is  if the Republicans block Obama's Supreme Court Justice nominee the same way that Obama voted against Alito and Roberts, then that is a totally ****** thing to do? 

 

If Obama nominates a liberal and they block the nomination for ideological reasons - even using the filibuster - then it's no different than what's been done in the past.  I don't support the filibuster for any legislation or appointment, but that's established precedent now.  Basing votes on ideological extremity is also precedent.

I'm saying that if they vote against the nominee simply to vote against the nominee, then they're setting a very dangerous precedent for all future presidents.

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1 minute ago, Leon Troutsky said:

The fact that he's represented Enron executives and done work on that side.  You're right, we don't know his philosophy for sure.  But based on what limited info we have he doesn't appear to be a liberal in the mold of Sotomayor or Kagan.  As I said, it points to a centrist.  Didn't say he was absolutely a centrist, only that the talk is that it's not a devout liberal.  We'll have to wait and see who he nominates.  But that's the point entirely...most Republicans have said "no" to anybody for any reason, to the point of threatening to not even have a hearing or a vote on the nominee before a person is named.

Sotomayor was an ADA in New York and was appointed by Giuliani to a political position.  Al D'Amato supported her ascension to the Federal bench.  What about her past identified her as a "liberal?"

Kagan co-authored a memo to President Clinton urging him to support a late-term abortion ban. 

Turning to the other side, as it were, is John Roberts a moderate or centrist in your mind?

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4 minutes ago, Leon Troutsky said:

If Obama nominates a liberal and they block the nomination for ideological reasons - even using the filibuster - then it's no different than what's been done in the past.  I don't support the filibuster for any legislation or appointment, but that's established precedent now.  Basing votes on ideological extremity is also precedent.

I'm saying that if they vote against the nominee simply to vote against the nominee, then they're setting a very dangerous precedent for all future presidents.

Did the Democrats set a dangerous precedent by voting to filibuster Alito?

I'm trying to find a dividing line between "fair game" and "dangerous precedent" that leads to something other than the party taking the action.

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3 minutes ago, JDaveG said:

So to be clear, moderate nominees need face no ideological opposition.  Depending upon how one defines "moderate" of course.

More ideological nominees, anything goes.  Is that roughly the case you're making?

Look at the political context of the moment (and in the past).  As you well know, the president nominates someone and the Senate votes on that person.  That makes them partners in the process.  During unified government, it's not a problem because the ideology of the Senate majority squares with that of the president.  

In divided government, things are different.  The president cannot expect a conservative Senate majority to approve of a strong liberal nominee.  So a moderate is the reasonable compromise on that.  If the Senate majority during divided government demands someone in line with their ideological views, they are trying to usurp the role of the president in the process.  If the President during divided government demands someone in line with his ideological views, he is trying to usurp the role of the Senate in the process.  

Nowhere in here is there room for the Senate to block someone simply for the sake of blocking them, especially in the hopes that maybe the next president will share their ideological views.  That's obstructionism for its own sake, and it's one of the major reasons that our entire federal system is f***ed up.  It sets a horrible precedent that would leave judicial vacancies open for as long as a year (possibly more) in the hopes that the election changes the ideological composition of the Senate, the President, or both.  How anybody can support that precedent is beyond me.

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Just now, Leon Troutsky said:

Look at the political context of the moment (and in the past).  As you well know, the president nominates someone and the Senate votes on that person.  That makes them partners in the process.  During unified government, it's not a problem because the ideology of the Senate majority squares with that of the president.  

In divided government, things are different.  The president cannot expect a conservative Senate majority to approve of a strong liberal nominee.  So a moderate is the reasonable compromise on that.  If the Senate majority during divided government demands someone in line with their ideological views, they are trying to usurp the role of the president in the process.  If the President during divided government demands someone in line with his ideological views, he is trying to usurp the role of the Senate in the process.  

Nowhere in here is there room for the Senate to block someone simply for the sake of blocking them, especially in the hopes that maybe the next president will share their ideological views.  That's obstructionism for its own sake, and it's one of the major reasons that our entire federal system is f***ed up.  It sets a horrible precedent that would leave judicial vacancies open for as long as a year (possibly more) in the hopes that the election changes the ideological composition of the Senate, the President, or both.  How anybody can support that precedent is beyond me.

So you would agree, then, that Biden's speech on the Senate floor was reckless and set a dangerous precedent, one he eventually backed off of (though he later voted to filibuster Alito himself, so, well, he didn't back off much)?

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1 minute ago, JDaveG said:

Did the Democrats set a dangerous precedent by voting to filibuster Alito?

I'm trying to find a dividing line between "fair game" and "dangerous precedent" that leads to something other than the party taking the action.

Yes, they did set a dangerous precedent by filibustering a Supreme Court nominee.  How many times do I have to explain that I am firmly opposed to the filibuster, for any reason?  You keep throwing this up like it undermines my position.  It doesn't.  It's simply deflection.

No, you're not trying to "find a dividing line between fair game and dangerous precedent".  You're engaging in rhetorical flourishes instead of understanding my argument here, and supporting your position that the Republicans are just "following the Democratic playbook" with false equivalencies.  I've explained why what the GOP is proposing is different from the past and why it is a very bad idea.  Why not address those points instead of playing this game?

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1 minute ago, Leon Troutsky said:

Yes, they did set a dangerous precedent by filibustering a Supreme Court nominee.  How many times do I have to explain that I am firmly opposed to the filibuster, for any reason?  You keep throwing this up like it undermines my position.  It doesn't.  It's simply deflection.

No, you're not trying to "find a dividing line between fair game and dangerous precedent".  You're engaging in rhetorical flourishes instead of understanding my argument here, and supporting your position that the Republicans are just "following the Democratic playbook" with false equivalencies.  I've explained why what the GOP is proposing is different from the past and why it is a very bad idea.  Why not address those points instead of playing this game?

False equivalencies.  Like saying the same thing the Democrats said, but in February instead of June (which TOTALLY makes a difference).

Okay.

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1 minute ago, JDaveG said:

So you would agree, then, that Biden's speech on the Senate floor was reckless and set a dangerous precedent, one he eventually backed off of (though he later voted to filibuster Alito himself, so, well, he didn't back off much)?

This is the conflation of different points that I'm talking about.  Biden's speech was 1992, and three days later he clarified that he was open to a moderate nominee.  So to the degree that he "backed off", he did so within days.  Alito's nomination came 14 years later, and the filibuster was based on ideological reasons.  But you want to conflate those events to make a weak argument that Biden proposed exactly what the GOP is proposing now, and that he implemented that strategy 14 years later when he filibustered a nominee from a different president.   

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Just now, Leon Troutsky said:

This is the conflation of different points that I'm talking about.  Biden's speech was 1992, and three days later he clarified that he was open to a moderate nominee.  So to the degree that he "backed off", he did so within days.  Alito's nomination came 14 years later, and the filibuster was based on ideological reasons.  But you want to conflate those events to make a weak argument that Biden proposed exactly what the GOP is proposing now, and that he implemented that strategy 14 years later when he filibustered a nominee from a different president.   

I conflate those events because, as I've said numerous times in this thread, I think the Republican opposition to an Obama nominee to replace Scalia is per se based on ideology.

If he nominates someone like Scalia, they would absolutely confirm that nominee. He won't.  He has no reason to and I don't blame him.  I just find the charges of obstructionism and foul play to be hypocritical.  Especially from this President, or the presumptive nominee, or the Vice President, or the sitting Secretary of State.

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Also, to clarify, even if the Democrats had done this in the past it would still be a very bad idea.  In fact, if they had done this in the past, then Republicans would have a stronger justification for it now, demonstrating the exact point that I've made many times about why this is such a bad idea.  

Again, you want to make this about parties and personalities - "well, they're both just as bad so whatever Republicans do is justified because I want them to dish it back to the Democrats for perceived slights in the past."  

I'm trying to point out how this could further damage the functioning of government at the federal level.  Like the filibuster, I don't care which party is abusing it.  It's a bad idea on it's own merits, and the supposed slights of Democrats against Harriet Myers and Robert Bork don't make it a good idea.

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