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Shelby in 2005: 'I firmly support changing the Senate rules to require that a simple majority be necessary to confirm all judicial nominees'

shelbyside.JPGA source just sent along this link to a 2005 press release on Richard Shelby's official Senate Web site:

As a U.S. Senator, I believe that the review of judicial nominations is one of the most important responsibilities of the Senate, and I firmly believe that each of the President's nominees should be afforded a straight up-or-down vote. I do not think that any of us want to operate in an environment where federal judicial nominees must receive 60 votes in order to be confirmed. To that end I firmly support changing the Senate rules to require that a simple majority be necessary to confirm all judicial nominees, thus ending the continuous filibuster of them.

And the case for an up-or-down vote on nominees is actually a lot stronger than it is for judicial nominees. Judicial nominees, after all, get lifetime appointments. Once appointed, they are no longer accountable to the people. That's an argument for requiring more political consensus for their appointment. The stakes are very high.

Presidential nominees, by contrast, serve until they're fired or the White House changes hands. They need to be in place quickly in order for the government to function and they can be removed easily if their performance is unacceptable. If Shelby believes a majority vote is good enough for judicial nominees, he should certainly believe it good enough for Allan Katz, the proposed ambassador to Portugal.

I guess another way of saying this is "Richard Shelby is a hypocrite who appears to love earmarks more than democracy."

Photo credit: Melina Mara/The Washington Post.

By Ezra Klein  |  February 5, 2010; 11:39 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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So the senator from the welfare state of alabama wants more tax money from minnesota taxpayers. What else is new?

Posted by: luko | February 5, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Now that President Obama is 24x7 'talk shop'; is it really hard for him to speak this specific 'duplicity' of a Senator in holding this Administration at 'ransom'? Will it be politically too bad if this is what is highlighted?

See, the problem is just saying that 'I want to fight' but never picking up the real ones which are 'slam dunk' in public opinion has a name - totally incompetent politics.

Another case in point - Dodd is saying that opposition of GOP to Consumer Finance Protection agency is total and hence there may not be a bi-partisan deal. Guys, why are you giggling that among yourselves like some 'teenagers'? Go to TV, go to newspapers, go to Web sites, out some ads and hammer along how GOP is against interests of common people.

All these are so obvious 'winning issues' for Democrats and they all are swatting around and doing nothing about it.

My goodness, did we elect so incompetent Dems?

Posted by: umesh409 | February 5, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

What I don't get is why the DNC isn't running ads right now, contrasting his statements with his behavior. Where are the reporters going to every repiglican senator asking if they will support 1 senator blocking 70 nominees after all of the up or down rhetoric that they spouted back when they controlled the senate? I guess "village newspeople" don't want to lose their friendly relations with the repiglicans.

Posted by: srw3 | February 5, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I feel obligated to agree 100% with Ezra's analysis.

I feel so dirty.

Judicial appointments are more important. Whitehouse appointments should not be filibusterable. Republicans complain about all the czars, but they are obligating Obama to appoint more czars than any president in history, because they filibuster all his actual appointments.Czars area route around the filibustering of appointments, and nothing more.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 5, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

umesh409 need you ask. The real question is are there any competent democrats? Right now, the answer is no. If the dems can't smack the repiglicans with shelby's duplicity, repiglican obstruction of the banking reform bill and the bank tax, etc. they deserve to lose, and it looks like they will.

Posted by: srw3 | February 5, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

So does this mean that Sen. Menendez is also a hypocrite? I mean, he held up the NOAA appointment and a CC scientist post because he was upset over some Obama administration issue with Cuba. And no, I don't think that it had anything to do with Cuba's weather.

He's against the filibuster now, so is he also a hypocrite who appears to love his pet issues more than democracy, or is that solely reserved for Ezra's pathological boogeyman "The Republican"?

Posted by: Philly213 | February 5, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Kevin, "czars" are not a formal title, and most of those designated "czar" as a term of art are just regular political appointees who have to go through the confirmation process like everyone else. You're really overdosing from all the mindless talking points getting mixed up in your head.

Posted by: constans | February 5, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Philly213, the senate is willing to tolerate small amounts of petulance from individual senators related to individual nominees on both sides of the aisle. Putting a "blanket hold" on all nominees is almost fortunate because it allows the whole system to break down.

It's the difference between using a pen at home that you got from the office supply cabinet vs. walking off with a crate of toner cartridges. The former is a hallowed tradition. The latter is a crime.

Posted by: constans | February 5, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

How about a compromise proposal? Obama tells Shelby that it might seem to others that he's only looking out for earmarks, and he doesn't want to give every Senator that kind of pressure to squeeze money out of the Feds. On the other hand, it may be that Shelby just very much cares about national defense.

So to allay both concerns, let's begin talks on possibly implementing the programs Shelby is advocating for -- but outside Alabama.

Posted by: TheodoreLittleton | February 5, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

That may be what Senator Shelby truly believes.

However Republicans lost this argument in 2005, much to the chagrin of Democrats.

We are just playing the same game that was played in the Bush years. You are all just such trailblazers, thank you.

Posted by: JackIL08 | February 5, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

JackIL08 says "We are just playing the same game that was played in the Bush years."

Factually false. No dem senator put a blanket hold on all political appointees during the bushies time in office. Dems actually gave in to the bushies and voted on almost all of the marginally qualified, radical right wing judges that bush nominated. The senate has approved approximately 100 less appointees than the dems did after bush's first year in office, even though Obama won a higher percentage of the vote (mandate anyone) than bush did in either of his elections and the dems have a bigger majority in the senate. Their use of the filibuster for appointees is a order of magnitude greater than the historical average and double the rate that dems used it during the bush years. Forcing cloture votes on nominees that get aproved by voice votes or majorities larger than it would take to envoke cloture is simply obstruction for political advantage.

Posted by: srw3 | February 5, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

*Factually false.*

You're harshing JackIL08's buzz here. If he wants to believe something, let him believe it. If he didn't have a bunch of false one-liners to regurgitate in his back pocket, he'd both have nothing to say, and he'd have to confront the fact that his entire life has been a waste in his effort to follow the false God of the morally failed Republican party. Reminding someone that everything he believes, everything he says, and everything he has supported has been a lie is like stepping on a kitten. Without those beliefs, he'd have no friends, no meaning, and be incapable of functioning in this world. Let him have his delusions.

Posted by: constans | February 5, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

You argument that Democrats were just too wimpy in the Bush years, so Republicans should play nice now doesn't hold much water.

Maybe we would be living in a different world if Miguel Estrada sat on the federal bench.

Posted by: JackIL08 | February 5, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

JackIL08, you did not read, or you consciously ignored my comment at 12:22pm. The possibility also exists that you do not understand what a "blanket hold" is and how it differs from a filibuster of a few nominees. Or that you are deluding yourself in order to maintain the false belief that Shelby -- and by extension the Republicans -- is in some way not committing an immoral and destructive act in order to absolve yourself from moral responsibility of mistakenly supporting a group of bad people.

Posted by: constans | February 5, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

This is the kind of consequence that Obama should have mulled over more seriously when he joined with other radical partisans to block nearly every one of Bush's nominees and when he specifically rejected John McCain's offer to join the centrist non-partisan Senators at ending this nonsense.

Live by the sword. Die by the sword.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | February 5, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, Richard Shelby is one of my senators. I wrote him asking if he still "firmly believes" the same way he believed in 2005 concerning judiciary nominees, providing him with the quote above and a link to the press release. I'm sure he will rationalize it someway or just flat out lie and say his actions now do not contrast with his firm beliefs in 2005.

Posted by: danburt | February 7, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

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