Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tonga

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Up-or-down is a merry-go-round formula

What a rapturous day for hypocrisy! Barely catching a breath after the controversial Priscilla Owen's confirmation to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and oath of office, the Senate granted lifelong tenure to a judge whose record identifies her as so far out of the mainstream that she can't even feel the current.

Brown Approved For D.C. Circuit
Senate Confirms California Justice, Sets Vote on Pryor

By Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 9, 2005; Page A01

The Senate confirmed Janice Rogers Brown to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit yesterday, handing President Bush and his conservative supporters a long-sought addition to the nation's second most influential court.

Brown, a California Supreme Court justice whose forcefully stated views have infuriated liberals and delighted conservatives, was approved 56 to 43 after two days of often emotional debate. Democrats had blocked her since 2003, but they were forced to accept her confirmation -- and those of two other appellate court nominees they strongly opposed -- when a bipartisan group struck a deal last month quelling a Republican threat to ban filibusters of judicial nominations.


Minutes after confirming Brown, the Senate voted to end debate and schedule a confirmation vote today for former Alabama attorney general William H. Pryor Jr., appointed by Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. If Pryor is confirmed as predicted, he will join Brown and Priscilla R. Owen -- sworn in this week to the 5th Circuit -- as the trio of sharply contested nominees whose approval was the price that liberals paid to retain the right to filibuster future nominees, possibly including those to the Supreme Court.

I can hardly wait for the William Pryor vote.

Remember the Republicans railing against the Democrats for refusing to bring Senate nomination hearings to a close?

Their chant: Up-or-down vote.
Their message: The undemocratic evil of needing a 60-vote majority.

President Bush on judicial nominees:
"I have a duty to nominate well-qualified men and women to the federal judiciary. I have done just that, and I will continue to do so," he said. "The Senate also has a duty -- to promptly consider each of these nominations on the Senate floor, discuss and debate their qualifications and
then give them the up or down vote they deserve.

Senator Doctor Frist on judicial nominees:
All 100 members of the U.S. Senate will soon decide a basic question of fairness. Will we permit a fair, up-or-down vote on every judicial nominee?

Or this one:
"They've been waiting years for an up-or-down vote, and now they'll get one," he said. "It's about time. We're making some progress."

Vice Prez Cheney on judicial nominees:
“I support bringing those nominees to the Senate for an up or down vote,” Cheney said.

Bush on Bolton:
"I thought John Bolton was going to get an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, just like he deserves an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, and clearly he's got the votes to get confirmed. And so I was disappointed that once again, the leadership there in the Senate didn't give him an up-or-down vote."

Wow. Three times as powerful.

Everybody wanted to get into the act.

"All judicial nominees deserve an up-or-down vote. It's a matter of fairness," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said at a news conference at the Justice Department.

Senator John Sununu on judicial nominees: “A 60-vote standard for all nominees is not fair to the President or the Judiciary itself. Nominations reported out of the Judiciary Committee deserve and [sic] up-or-down vote on the floor.”

...and so on.

But tonight the AP reports:

Brownback Puts Diplomat Nomination on Hold

By SAM HANANEL, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jun 8, 8:48 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Sen. Sam Brownback has put a hold on the White House's nomination of a prominent abortion-rights supporter to a diplomatic post.

Kind of refreshing to see the old "pyramid" journalism style in use-- leading with the most salient information.

The Kansas Republican, a strong abortion opponent with presidential aspirations, says he has concerns about Julie Finley's nomination as ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Brownback is chairman of the Helsinki Commission, an independent U.S. government agency that formulates policy on OSCE issues. The Vienna-based organization monitors compliance with human rights and security standards in Europe established by the 1975 Helsinki Accords.

"I have some concerns about Ms. Finley and I would like to have assurances about these issues before I make any final decisions on the nomination moving forward," Brownback said in a statement. "She is a wonderful lady that I have worked with before, but not yet on issues relevant to the OSCE."

Finley, a longtime Bush supporter and Republican fundraiser, is a founding member of the WISH list, a political action committee that raises money for female Republican candidates who support abortion rights.

Brownback's office declined to specify his concerns, but a spokesman said the senator is meeting with Finley on Thursday to discuss her nomination. Finley declined to comment.

A single senator can block a nomination from moving forward by placing a hold on it.

What-- no up-or-down vote?

No comment forthcoming from the Senate Republicans on the undemocratic evil of a one-man veto.

Some anti-abortion groups mobilized last month to stop Finley's nomination based on her abortion views. The Republican National Coalition for Life has urged its members to contact the White House to oppose the nomination.

"Because of ongoing attempts to promote taxpayer funding of abortion and the distribution of abortion-causing drugs overseas, we are concerned that, given her history of support for liberal abortion policies, she will be able to promote her pro-abortion views through the OSCE," said a letter on the group's Web site.

James Geoffrey, a commission spokesman, said the issue of abortion is not typically addressed by the organization.

"The commission doesn't take a position on things like that, and we don't expect it to be an issue," Geoffrey said.

Finley's views on abortion did not come up during her Senate confirmation hearing last month, where she testified that she is a strong advocate of NATO expansion and spreading democracy to former Soviet Union nations.

Finley is a trustee and treasurer for the National Endowment for Democracy. She was a founder and board member of the U.S. Committee on NATO.

Sam Brownback--more evidence of the decline of Kansas.