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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Filibuster"

McConnell: I would have to take up an impeachment — but perhaps not for long

Westlake Legal Group mcconnell-cnbc McConnell: I would have to take up an impeachment — but perhaps not for long US Senate The Blog Senate Rules Mitch McConnell impeachment Filibuster dismissal Chief Justice John Roberts

Did Mitch McConnell hint at a quick disposal of any impeachment articles presented by the House? Talking to CNBC this morning, the Senate Majority Leader again reminded the hosts that Senate rules require the upper chamber to start a trial if the House impeaches a federal officer, and that it would take 67 votes to change those rules. McConnell doesn’t plan to challenge the rule, but he says that the trial might not last too long if and when one starts:

The Senate would have to take up impeachment of President Donald Trump if the House effectively votes to charge the president, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday.

“I would have no choice but to take it up,” the Kentucky Republican told CNBC. “How long you are on it is a different matter, but I would have no choice but to take it up based on a Senate rule on impeachment.” …

If the House impeaches, the Republican-held Senate would then hold a trial on whether to convict Trump and remove him from office. Despite the current lack of support for the inquiry among Senate Republicans, McConnell said the chamber by rule would have no choice but to follow through with the process.

“How long you are on it is a different matter,” McConnell says as an aside, which the CNBC panel doesn’t notice. CNN’s Manu Raju did, however, and he speculates that McConnell would simply move to dismiss after following the letter of the rules in starting the trial:

The most recent version of the Senate rules on impeachment indeed require that a trial commence; it does not even provide for a vote on the subject. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court then becomes the presiding officer and rules on all motions presented at the trial, unless a member of the Senate moves to hold a vote on it or the presiding officer asks for the Senate to resolve it themselves. Under Rule VII, that becomes a non-debatable motion on the floor with an immediate final vote:

Westlake Legal Group senate-rules-1 McConnell: I would have to take up an impeachment — but perhaps not for long US Senate The Blog Senate Rules Mitch McConnell impeachment Filibuster dismissal Chief Justice John Roberts

Presumably, a motion to dismiss would be in order at any point once the trial began. If Chief Justice John Roberts ruled against it or ruled it out of order, Rule VII allows any member of the Senate to call for a vote on the motion, which Roberts must grant. At that point, the normal rules of the Senate come into play — except that there can be no debate before the vote. Without debate, there is no filibuster or cloture, which means a dismissal motion would rise or fall on a simple majority.

If Republicans move to dismiss, they could incur some political risk in shutting down a trial before it plays all the way out. By that time, everyone will see what the House puts into the articles of impeachment and can judge whether it rises to the level of removal, and so far Ukraine-Gate seems to fall far short of that mark. Short-circuiting a trial could erode the credibility of the final vote, which is almost certain to be an acquittal on a party-line vote, but McConnell might still get one or two senators willing to say Trump’s bad but that impeachment and removal was unwarranted. A dismissal would probably preclude that possibility and open up charges that Republicans cooked the process to protect Trump — even though a dismissal motion is a legitimate procedure in a trial. That’s no small consideration just months before Senate Republicans head into an election cycle where they have to defend a lot more seats than Democrats do.

Nevertheless, it’s an option in McConnell’s pocket, and his offhand remark here suggests he’s taking that option seriously. If anyone can play it for political benefit, it’s Cocaine Mitch.

The post McConnell: I would have to take up an impeachment — but perhaps not for long appeared first on Hot Air.

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McConnell to Dems on filibuster: Aren’t you tired of rule-change backfires yet?

Westlake Legal Group McConnellSmiles McConnell to Dems on filibuster: Aren’t you tired of rule-change backfires yet? US Senate The Blog Senate Democrats Mitch McConnell Harry Reid Filibuster

Perhaps Mitch McConnell could have put this argument more simply. Why, he might have asked, would Senate Democrats continue to take advice from Harry Reid on rules changes? Earlier this month, Reid wrote an argument in the New York Times for abolition of “the filibuster in all its forms,” declaring that “the future of our country is sacrificed at the altar of the filibuster.”

Nonsense, McConnell retorted on the same platform today. After reminding Senate Democrats just how well Reid’s strategy for rules changes have worked out for them over the last couple of years, McConnell gets down to his defense of the filibuster:

On legislation, however, the Senate’s treasured tradition is not efficiency but deliberation. One of the body’s central purposes is making new laws earn broader support than what is required for a bare majority in the House. The legislative filibuster does not appear in the Constitution’s text, but it is central to the order the Constitution sets forth. It echoes James Madison’s explanation in Federalist 62 that the Senate is designed not to rubber-stamp House bills but to act as an “additional impediment” and “complicated check” on “improper acts of legislation.” It embodies Thomas Jefferson’s principle that “great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities.”

Yes, the Senate’s design makes it difficult for one party to enact sweeping legislation on its own. Yes, the filibuster makes policy less likely to seesaw wildly with every election. These are features, not bugs. Our country doesn’t need a second House of Representatives with fewer members and longer terms. America needs the Senate to be the Senate.

I recognize it may seem odd that a Senate majority leader opposes a proposal to increase his own power. Certainly it is curious that liberals are choosing this moment, when Americans have elected Republican majorities three consecutive times and counting, to attack the minority’s powers.

But my Republican colleagues and I have not and will not vandalize this core tradition for short-term gain. We recognize what everyone should recognize — there are no permanent victories in politics. No Republican has any trouble imagining the laundry list of socialist policies that 51 Senate Democrats would happily inflict on Middle America in a filibuster-free Senate.

The problem Democrats have with the Senate isn’t the filibuster, McConnell argues, but their increasingly radical agenda:

In this country, radical changes face a high bar by design. It is telling that today’s left-wing activists would rather lower that bar than produce ideas that can meet it.

Perhaps we should recognize that Republicans have had some issues with legislative filibusters in the past, too. The repeal of ObamaCare ran up hard against that, forcing McConnell to take a page out of Reid’s playbook and use the reconciliation process to attempt to pass it. That effort famously failed anyway, but the tradeoffs needed to qualify under reconciliation played a part in that failure.

Still, McConnell is largely correct in that the legislative filibuster serves a purpose consistent with the Senate’s overall constitutional role. Appointments to office should have always been made quickly and efficiently, McConnell argues, which is why eliminating the filibuster on presidential appointments made sense in the current maximalist political climate. The constitutional purpose of the Senate, McConnell argues, is to slow down the legislative process. It was actually to represent the state governments, but the intent for legislation was certainly that, before the 17th Amendment canceled out that effect. The legislative filibuster is all that remains to keep that intent in place.

In the present radical environment in which Democrats operate, the filibuster is seriously endangered. If they force an end to it, it won’t take long for them to “rue the day” they took Harry Reid’s advice on rules strategy. This time, they won’t have any excuse for that choice.

The post McConnell to Dems on filibuster: Aren’t you tired of rule-change backfires yet? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Notorious RBG to Dems: Court-packing is a bad idea

Westlake Legal Group r-2 Notorious RBG to Dems: Court-packing is a bad idea The Blog Supreme Court ruth bader ginsburg roosevelt packing nine Merrick Garland Justice gorsuch Filibuster court

Is there a Democrat anywhere who’s more likely to influence progressive opinion on this subject than Ginsburg? Maybe Obama, but he’d be attacked as weak for opposing Court-packing considering that the proposal is aimed at righting the alleged wrong done by Mitch McConnell in roadblocking Merrick Garland’s nomination. O would be siding with the GOP on a policy matter triggered by his own supposed victimization by them. And besides, thanks to Biden, the left is more skeptical of Obama today than it’s been at any point since early in the 2008 primaries. O’s dim view of Court-packing now wouldn’t have the sort of talismanic effect it might have had five years ago when he was still in office.

Due to her authority as a member of the Court and her iconic status as the dean of the liberal wing and a feminist trailblazer, literally no one’s opinion is apt to carry as much weight in lefty thinking as Ginsburg’s.

Which is not to say it’s apt to carry *much* weight. They seem pretty hyped to add a few justices when next they control the presidency and the Senate, if only for the visceral pleasure of avenging Garland.

But let’s be real. Once they’re in a position to confirm their own Supreme Court nominees again, how much of the appetite for Court-packing will remain? They’re starving right now because it’s been nearly 10 years since a Democrat joined the Court and around 50 years since they’ve had a reliable Democratic majority. Once Schumer and a Dem president are in charge and they can start filling vacancies again without needing to worry about a Republican filibuster, they’ll be (mostly) sated. Even if they wanted to accelerate a new Democratic SCOTUS majority by packing the Court, they’d need to shatter two separate taboos to do it — increasing the number of justices from nine, of course, but also ending the legislative filibuster so that a simple Dem majority in the Senate could join with the House in amending the statute that sets the number of justices. Either one of those moves in isolation would be thermonuclear politically. In tandem they’d be like an asteroid hitting the Earth.

And imagine what the polling would be like. Republicans would oppose it unanimously, independents would likely oppose it on balance, and Dems would support it but with a substantial minority expressing misgivings. Result: A solid majority of the public against the idea. A Rasmussen poll from earlier this year confirmed that guesswork, in fact:

As Fix The Court notes, a recent Rasmussen poll finds that only 27 percent of respondents favor adding justices to the Supreme Court — and presumably the lower courts — while 55 percent opposed. Meanwhile, in the same poll, 54 percent of respondents support a term limits proposal. Even Justice Breyer is on board with an 18-year term limit.

The public is more narrowly divided on impeaching Trump than they are on Court-packing and yet Pelosi so fears the backlash impeachment might generate for centrist Dems in purple districts that she won’t go near it. Imagine lefties trying to convince her to blow up the Supreme Court, knowing that the election of a Democratic president would be likely to turbo-charge Republican turnout for the following midterm elections anyway. If they want to pack the Court, their first step would necessarily have to be replacing Pelosi as Speaker with a progressive firebrand. And then, when they’re done with that, they’d need to convince the new Dem president that it’s worth triggering a mammoth Republican electoral backlash to add two new justices to the Court, knowing that GOPers would surely use the precedent to add two more of their own just as soon as they’re back in power. How is it worth it?

The post Notorious RBG to Dems: Court-packing is a bad idea appeared first on Hot Air.

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Biden: If you think you can’t work with the other side, you might as well start a physical revolution

Westlake Legal Group b-10 Biden: If you think you can’t work with the other side, you might as well start a physical revolution The Blog Revolution poor people's Obama Filibuster Elizabeth Warren campaign bipartisan biden Bernie Sanders

Literally every liberal and conservative activist watching this clip is thinking, “Time for a revolution then, I guess.”

Biden has given variations of this answer repeatedly over the last month, insisting that bipartisanship in Washington is still possible, all conventional wisdom to the contrary notwithstanding. I … kind of think he believes it. It’s the sort of thing he would say even if he didn’t believe it since he’s counting on centrists to be his base and centrists love hearing well-meaning claptrap about reaching across the aisle. But after decades of writing legislation in the Senate and buddying up to Republicans to do it in a past era, he may really believe that his dealmaking prowess and friendly relationships with the GOP on the Hill make him the man to end the new era of fierce of negative hyperpartisanship.

His former boss famously believed this too. Win reelection, Obama thought in 2012, and the Republican resistance would crack and finally get down to the hard business of compromising with him on policy. He did win reelection — but the GOP dug in and won a Senate majority in 2014 which they have yet to relinquish. I bet Trump believes the same thing about 2020. Democrats won the midterms and are confident about their chances next year, so they’re waiting him out on major policy deals right now. But once he’s safely reelected and Pelosi realizes he’s the only game in town until 2024, she’ll come around.

She won’t. Activist organizing and partisan media cocooning on both sides in the Internet age are irresistible forces.

I think Biden’s going to get shredded for this at the debates. There are all sorts of policy issues he can and will be challenged on, but policy is complicated. His apparent belief that Republicans are basically good at heart and want to compromise is, by contrast, very easy for the average left-wing voter to grasp and verrrrrry likely to elicit a strong reaction. “You can shame people to do things the right way,” he insists at the very end of his answer here, ignoring the fact that the very first commandment in the modern Democratic creed is that Republicans are shameless.

The smart answer here, which he should have given, happens also to be the truth: The filibuster is not long for this world regardless of how the 2020 elections turn out. Elizabeth Warren gave that answer at this same event this afternoon, in fact, not long after Biden spoke.

It’s a mortal lock that the filibuster will be scrapped if either party ends up with total control of government next year. Each side has been frustrated legislatively for too long by the 60-vote rule. It must and will change.

I wonder if it might change even if government stays divided. What I mean is that right now seems like an opportune moment for both sides to agree to nuke the rule, sparing themselves from having to take sole responsibility down the road for a raw power grab aimed at ramming their agenda through. Odds are good that the House will stay Democratic and that the Senate will remain Republican on Election Day next year, with the presidency a question mark. As such, with Pelosi enjoying currently veto power over Republican legislation, the stakes are relatively low for Democrats in scrapping the filibuster. If they agreed to do so and then electoral fortunes shifted their way next year, they’d be in position to retake government and enact ambitious programs with the filibuster already long gone by the time they’re sworn in. Same goes, of course, for the GOP if Trump is reelected and they reclaim the House majority.

If Biden were wise, he’d push that idea now. “I believe in bipartisanship,” he might say, “but bipartisanship shouldn’t demand supermajority thresholds. As president, I can bring together majorities in the House and Senate. Let’s move America forward by moving past the filibuster.” Instead Warren’s going to end up saying that at the debates. And it’ll be a big hit when she does.

Exit question: What planet is Uncle Joe on here when he insists that Obama had no time to explain ObamaCare? He explained it for literally six years, bro. His “explanation” was the 2013 lie of the year!

The post Biden: If you think you can’t work with the other side, you might as well start a physical revolution appeared first on Hot Air.

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Dem candidate Bennet: We blew it by filibustering Gorsuch instead of waiting for Kavanaugh

Westlake Legal Group dem-candidate-bennet-we-blew-it-by-filibustering-gorsuch-instead-of-waiting-for-kavanaugh Dem candidate Bennet: We blew it by filibustering Gorsuch instead of waiting for Kavanaugh The Blog SCOTUS Roe v Wade Michael Bennet kavanaugh gorsuch Filibuster Demand Justice Antonin Scalia

Westlake Legal Group mb Dem candidate Bennet: We blew it by filibustering Gorsuch instead of waiting for Kavanaugh The Blog SCOTUS Roe v Wade Michael Bennet kavanaugh gorsuch Filibuster Demand Justice Antonin Scalia

Via the Free Beacon, I’ve made this argument myself. More than once, in fact.

Gorsuch’s confirmation was a terrible spot for Democrats to pick a fight on the filibuster, for two reasons. He was, as Michael Bennet says in the clip, a conservative replacing a conservative, a relatively low-stakes confirmation. And there wasn’t a drop of useful oppo on him to make Republican squishes like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski squeamish about taking a step as dramatic as ending the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees in order to confirm him. The “moral” case for filibustering him was weaker than Democrats thought too. They did it to protest McConnell’s decision the year before to block Merrick Garland, signaling their belief that no one but Garland himself should be rightly confirmed to replace Scalia, but all legitimacy ultimately flows from the electorate. Voters chose Trump over Clinton knowing what that would mean to the Scalia vacancy. Schumer’s filibuster of Gorsuch’s confirmation was to some degree a protest of the electorate’s verdict, which is why it gained Democrats nothing politically.

Strategically, everything comes back to Collins, Murkowski, and other Republican centrists in the Senate like the now departed Jeff Flake and Bob Corker. Had Schumer passed on filibustering Gorsuch, the 60-vote rule for nominees would have been intact when Kavanaughgeddon struck the Senate in 2018. Collins and the other RINOs were willing to cast a gut-check confirmation vote for him in the belief that Christine Blasey Ford’s unsubstantiated rape allegation wasn’t enough to presume him guilty. But I can’t believe they’d have taken the momentous additional step of ending the Senate’s filibuster rules for SCOTUS nominees to confirm him under those circumstances, particularly knowing that Kavanaugh might be the fifth vote to overturn Roe. It would have been the perfect fig leaf for them to oppose Kavanaugh without really opposing him: “Although I believe Judge Kavanaugh’s professions of innocence and regard him as well qualified for the position, the filibuster is a crucial check on majority power in a deliberative body and I oppose eliminating it.” McConnell would have been stuck needing 60 votes to confirm, Kav would have fallen short, and Trump would have been forced to come back with a more moderate replacement nominee. As it is, with the filibuster already gone thanks to Gorsuch, Collins and the rest had to face the GOP base and cast an up-or-down vote on confirmation.

The punchline: Schumer spent part of the pre-Gorsuch confirmation process openly lamenting his party’s short-sightedness in 2013, when Harry Reid and the Senate Democratic majority ended the filibuster for cabinet nominees. I told them that would come back to haunt us, Schumer claimed. And then he turned around and made another terrible short-sighted strategic decision by wasting the big filibuster fight for SCOTUS nominees on Gorsuch instead of the next nominee. The next time someone tells you how much Washington Republicans are terrified of their base, remind them that Schumer was so terrified of his own that he wasted the chance to block Brett Kavanaugh on a dopey, pandering “but Garland!” protest in 2017 instead.

The post Dem candidate Bennet: We blew it by filibustering Gorsuch instead of waiting for Kavanaugh appeared first on Hot Air.

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