Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

November 19, 2013

Up-or-down vote

Senate Republicans this week are likely to take a vote that is unfair, unwise and bad for the functioning of the government. Again.

For the third time in three weeks, the Senate will consider a presidential nominee to the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The first two nominees, Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pillard, failed to attract the 60 votes necessary to clear GOP filibusters. There’s little reason to think that dynamic will change for the third, Judge Robert Wilkins.

Senate Republicans are not assessing these nominees on their merits, as each deserves. Rather, Republicans have made them victims of a toxic and unresolvable “debate” about the proper size of the D.C. Circuit. Republicans accuse President Obama of attempting to tilt its ideological balance, which, of course, he is. And they argue that the court isn’t busy enough to require its vacant seats to be filled.

Democrats insist the court still needs more active judges, and they point out that Republicans attempted to fill the court during the George W. Bush years, when the caseload wasn’t much different.

But the question of whether the D.C. Circuit needs all 11 of its judicial slots doesn’t need to be resolved to offer the president’s legitimate nominees a fair up-or-down vote, and Republicans are wrong to use that as a pretext to block them. It’s transparently self-serving of GOP lawmakers to oppose D.C. Circuit nominees only when it’s a Democrat’s turn to pick them. If Republicans truly are concerned that the court is too large, they should offer a plan to reduce its size — in future presidencies. That would separate raw partisan motivation from authentic concern about the state of the court system, and it’s the only sensible way to make changes to its size amid sharp partisan contention. In the meantime, Republicans should give the president’s legitimate, well-qualified nominees a fair hearing, instead of degrading further the already-broken process of staffing the government and the courts.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Remember the pledge Editor:The county board chairman is not being factual with his recent comments concerning the Public Safety Tax Pledge made by the 2004-2010 County Board.First of all, the debt we were facing was caused by the foolish actions of nine board members of

    July 31, 2014

  • Back to the future for death penalty? The surreal national debate over the death penalty reached a climax of sorts July 23 in a prison execution chamber in Florence, Arizona. Double murderer Joseph Wood was put to death by lethal injection shortly after his lawyers went to the Supreme Co

    July 31, 2014

  • Reduce property tax Editor:The regular July meeting of the Rend Lake Conservancy District Board of Trustees is always interesting, and this year was no different. It is at this meeting that the board makes the annual tax levy for the district. Like every year, the debat

    July 31, 2014

  • Away from the tyranny ‘Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency,” the late poet Maya Angelou reflected in an interview with USA Today in 1988. “We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”What a poem Angelou might have written about

    July 31, 2014

  • No Headline Provided House and Senate conferees have agreed on a $17 billion bill to address the scandal over poor health-care service at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The legislation is now on a fast track to pass Congress before its August recess, showing that Re

    July 31, 2014

  • Shackled by 'dead men' In theory, the American people’s elected representatives decide every so often how much to tax the public and how to allocate the revenue among various priorities, both short-term and long-term. In practice, however, Congress and the president have a

    July 31, 2014

  • Close the tax loophole that sends US corporations overseas Since we last overhauled our federal tax code, in 1986, countries around the world have lowered their tax rates, leaving the United States with the highest corporate tax rate in the developed word. At the same time, the system has become full of inef

    July 29, 2014

  • Israel and the U.S.: Whose survival instinct is stronger? There’s something darkly coincidental in the fact that the latest weapon to be deployed against the survival instinct of both Israel and the United States is an alleged “heartlessness” when it comes to children. The people of Israel are castigated in

    July 29, 2014

  • College cost isn't big problem for poor students To judge by this summer’s banner policy proposals, the most important question for higher-education reform right now is giving students easier access to loans. But evidence from Canada suggests those changes won’t address the greater need: Getting mo

    July 29, 2014

  • Ducks, geese a blessing I would like to respond to the “Geese and ducks causing problems in Veterans Park” article that was published in the Mt. Vernon Register-News on July 16, 2014. I must share that I do understand that at times there have been a great number of the Cana

    July 29, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks