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Assault on America, Day 58: Democrats won’t get away with abusing the blue slip & filibuster

Democrats control the United States Senate. Yes, you heard it right; Mitch McConnell may be the body’s majority leader, the lawmaker who sets the calendar and ultimately decides what legislation is considered and what’s killed through inaction, but make no mistake, Democrats call the shots today... at least in many respects.

How? Why? Because of Democrats’ twisted use of partisan politics, the process and abuse of the filibuster rule. Scholars lecture the Founding Fathers originally created a bicameral legislature to purposely make passing laws demanding, and the senate in particular was designed to do things slowly and deliberately. This would be accurate if the upper chamber fulfilled its original purpose, to represent the views of the states. But it doesn’t. In fact, not even close.

Instead there’s a faction of senators -- 47 Democrats and otherwise liberal “independents” like Bernie Sanders and Maine Senator Angus King -- who hold hostage what would otherwise be the normal course of business, stalling bills and sometimes keeping judicial nominees and Trump administration appointees in limbo for months before receiving confirmation hearings and votes.

The recent impasse over the federal budget (which resulted in a record five-week-long government shutdown) and funding for the border wall was only one example of the Democrats’ sinister and selfish curtailing of progress. Now they’re using another “tradition” to throw a proverbial wrench into what should be a straightforward and machine-like progression.

Jordain Carney reported at The Hill, “The Senate is set to escalate a long simmering fight over President Trump's judicial nominees. Republicans are poised to confirm [picks] for the influential circuit courts … without the support of either of the nominee's home-state senators — a first for the Trump era…

“[T]he use of the blue slip has emerged as a flashpoint during the Trump administration as several Democratic senators have refused to return their paperwork on circuit court nominees from their home states, setting up a round of fights between Democrats and the White House.

“Democrats went ‘nuclear’ to nix the 60-vote filibuster for district and circuit judges in 2013, leaving the blue slip as one of the few options left for a home-state senator who is in the minority to try and hold up a nominee they oppose.”

As previously mentioned here, the so-called senate “blue slip” tradition was firstly instituted over a hundred years ago to ensure the body’s members received information and opinions from home state senators regarding nominees. Because adequate background checks were often difficult (if not impossible) to obtain in the time before modern electronic archiving and communications techniques it was reasoned that folks closer to the person’s home would know more about the nominee -- and their views would therefore carry additional weight.

With today’s all-encompassing internet and information technology these worries are no longer relevant. If anything, there’s almost too much information reachable now through a simple search, a tool that unscrupulous liberals repeatedly exploit to drum up sleaze about well-qualified candidates simply because they disagree with the person’s on-the-job philosophies.

In the old days there was a presumption of impartiality if a nominee was “qualified”. Prior to Judge Robert Bork’s mid-eighties Supreme Court nomination, candidates with sufficient experience and impeccable credentials were passed through because lawmakers generally believed it was the president’s prerogative to choose judges and administration personnel. Unfortunately, this non-ideological assumption of sufficiency no longer exists.

The Democrats destroyed it. Even after Bork’s nomination was defeated (42-58) and Clarence Thomas’s barely made it through the Senate (52-48), Republicans still granted Democrat presidents the courtesy of a perfunctory vote on qualified Clinton high court selections Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, both of whom were confirmed by near unanimous margins (96-3 for Ginsburg and 87-9 for Breyer). Even Obama picks Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor breezed through without serious objections (63-37 for Kagan and 68-31 for Sotomayor).

But these days, whenever Republicans and conservatives go before the Senate the game’s changed. Right from the start of Trump’s presidency Democrats pulled out all the stops to prevent or impede experienced originalist jurists from being confirmed, employing the filibuster and other tactics to delay, delay, delay in hopes of thwarting the president… for no good reason other than naked partisan politics.

Or perhaps Democrats correctly feared the Trump nominees would shift the federal courts away from the legislate-from-the-bench thrust they’re comfortable with. To them, if you can’t pass a law in Congress or at the state level, just find the right Democrat-appointed judge and presto, a right appears! How else could same-sex marriage crawl its way into the national fold?

The text and simple language of the Constitution is clear on what it permits and what it forbids. Liberal judges have utterly destroyed the concept of Due Process by insisting it includes rights and concepts that were never conceived of by the document’s creators. Whenever it happens the entire republic breaks down, morphs into a tyranny of one (judge) and anything’s fair game. Trump’s reforming of the judiciary will make things right again…literally.

As far as the blue slips are concerned, why should any president (Republican or Democrat) be constrained by the say so of two senators from a nominee’s home state? Why, for example, should ultra-leftist California Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein pass final judgement on a well-qualified conservative appointee from The Golden State? Doesn’t abuse of the blue slip effectively grant two senators a de facto (and unconstitutional) “veto” over the president’s preferences?   

In today’s hyper-partisan political environment, we can’t expect liberal Democrats (a good many of whom are running for president themselves) to grudgingly give their approbation to anything Trump does. Does Kamala Harris actually sit down and objectively review a nominee’s file for the x’s, y’s and z’s of fitness or simply toss it into the rubbish bin and shout “no way!”?

And DiFi’s treatment of Brett Kavanaugh last fall demonstrated how “unbiased” she is. Please.

Then there’s the filibuster rule which grants dictatorial power to the minority. Maybe Leader McConnell should bring back a “talking” tradition of his own. Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) wrote at The Washington Examiner earlier this week, “The American people elected President Trump with a historic mandate to secure our southern border and protect our communities. Yet nearly two years into the Trump presidency, the border wall that is the centerpiece of Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ agenda remains largely unbuilt.

“The reason is simple: Democrats have obstructed this president at every turn, even shutting down the government for the longest period in American history to ensure the wall would not be funded...

“McConnell and his Republican colleagues in the majority should fight back against the Democrats’ constant abuse of the filibuster. The ongoing debate over government funding is the best opportunity Congress has to help President Trump build the border wall and fund other priorities the American people want. It is time to make obstructionist senators filibuster for real by standing on the Senate floor all day and all night, so that the American people can see firsthand who is responsible for gridlock and dysfunction in Washington.”

There’s a lot of merit to Mooney’s idea. It would be humorous to watch Democrats pontificating for hours with no let-up. Truly ambitious viewers might even invent a drinking game to monitor a filibuster, maybe one shot for every obvious Democrat lie or distortion!

On a serious note, reinstituting the talking filibuster is a reform the system desperately needs to save it from partisan stall strategies both parties have employed. The business of the country is too important to place in the hands of people who’re interested only in political scores. If Democrats have a position, let ‘em defend it before everyone… in plain view.

When Democrats can’t legitimately win on the merits of an issue, they cook the rules to prevail regardless. It’s long past time Republican leaders reformed the process to function more like the Founding Fathers intended, and tyranny of the minority will finally become a relic of the past.

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