Comments about ‘Robert Bennett: 'Nuclear option' ends unwritten rules’

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Published: Monday, Dec. 2 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

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South Jordan, UT

Republicans have blocked SOME of his nominees? Some? Try more than half -- more than half of the judicial filibusters in the entire history of the Senate have happened during the Obama administration. Republicans have abused the filibuster to the point where it is now the norm. They brought this upon themselves by refusing to go along with anyone the President put forward.

On a side note, Miguel Estrada wasn't the first judicial nominee to be filibustered. But he was certainly a dangerous one. He was an admitted partisan ideologue with more interest in furthering the Republican Party than in the rule of law.

Mr. Bennett is being less-than-forthcoming, if not outright dishonest about the history of filibusters and their current abuse.

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

"Now with Obama as president, Republicans have embraced the Estrada precedent and used filibusters to block some of his judicial nominees."

Actually what the Republicans have done under President Obama is completely unprecedented. They have not blocked "some" of his nominees, they have blocked most of them. It is also untrue that the Democrats were the first to filibuster a judicial nominee. Republicans filibustered Richard Paez, a Clinton nominee, for appointment to the 9th circuit court. They also used procedural chicanery to block many of Clinton's other picks.

Republicans have only themselves to blame for the current mess. There are currently three vacancies on the D.C. appeals court. The GOP made it clear that they would not confirm any of the President's nominees no matter who they were.

Here, UT

"Republicans have embraced the Estrada precedent and used filibusters to block some of his judicial nominees."


Unfortunately, it wasn't just "some" of Obama's nominees, it was pretty much all of them.

Bob, I wish you were still in Washington instead of that petty obstructionist, Mike Lee.

Saint George, UT

Anyone, from any side, from any persuasion, for any reason that is actually able to throw a wrench into the quagmire of Washington politics has my support. As long as Americans begin to open their eyes to the Kingmen that inhabit Washington, it is a good thing. As long as Americans begin to open their eyes to the simple idea that individual responsibility will make Washington impotent, it is a good thing. It is all good! Life is good! Go Mike Lee!

Woodland Hills, UT

Bailout Bob just keeps on going, and going.........and going.

Far East USA, SC

It is one thing to vote against a nominee that you dont like for substantive reasons. It is quite another to do it to someone that you ultimately have no qualms with.

That is the difference in what we have here.

Some are against anything Obama wants or does. That is not governing. It is partisan obstruction.

BYUtah Fan
Herriman, UT

As a conservative republican, I am pleased that the democrats have invoked the "nuclear option". The worm will turn and the republicans will control the Senate. We will then need only 51 votes in the Senate to dump obamacare. Thank you Harry. But watch out. There is likely to be an exploding petard in your future.

Ogden, UT

As always Hypocrisy rears its ugly head and it is usually worn by the Democrats.

Murray, UT

@BYUtah Fan - The Republican's are only p;laying political theatre when it comes to try and repeal the ACA. Private Insurance Companies, are forecasting, record profits with the increased enrollments. As everyone knows, the Republicans and sadly the majority of Democrats are married to corporate interests.

Kearns, UT

Roland and Schwa. I guess that none of you remember the "holds" that were constantly put on Bush's nominations by democrats, particularly Hilary. These "holds" were not technically filibusters but the same process was in place to take these holds off as would happen with a filibuster.

And Schwa, the blocking of Estrada who was as you say, "an admitted partisan idealogue" was a travesty. Like none of Obama's picks, especially for the Supreme Court aren't partisan idealogues. Especially the last two.

Cottonwood Heights, UT

"it shows that Senate precedents which were instrumental in keeping bitter partisanship under control are pretty much gone, which is not a good thing"

I think just the opposite is true. This bitter partisanship has escalated to new heights as a result of this obstructionism on the part of the republicans. Besides over the last 100 years only four presidents have won a majority vote in two or more elections, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Barrack Obama. Obama clearly has a greater mandate from the people, than recent presidents, and deserves the right to choose executives to branches of government and judges to fill vacancies in the courts.

Springville, UT

The filibuster must end for appointments based on issues other than the qualifications of the the individual nominated. The President (of either party) should have the right to fill vacancies in both the Administration and in the courts. If the person nominated is truly objectionable, then that should be discussed. And to hold up nominations for other considerations, including trying to change the course of the agency (as Ted Cruz did recently with the FCC) or to force the Adminstration to change course on unrelated issues is wrong. Reid, despite the howling of the GOP who have abused the process, is correct on this.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Robert Bennett knows what precipitated this move by Reid. Senate Republicans have been filibustering President Obama’s judicial nominees at an unprecedented rate as though it was routine. It had nothing to do with the nominees qualifications. They were simply Obama’s nominees and that was the only justification the GOP had.

It wasn’t politics as usual as Bennett wants to believe. The recent rate of use of filibustering as a standard tactic to block Presidential appointments served only the end of partisan advantage over a President the GOP loathes. Reid was forced to take such drastic action to end an intolerable situation that promised to only get worse. I would hope that Bob Bennett could bring himself to at least acknowledge that much.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

‘Unwritten rules’ are generally in place among people of good faith who are nonetheless engaged in some form of battle (political in this case).

When these rules are routinely ignored – what the Dems did under Bush was not routine vs. what the Reps are doing now – at some point they get either formally or informally tossed out.

Senator Reid is simply making formal what has been informal since Obama took office.

If the Senate used to be governed by rules akin to boxing (Marquess of Queensberry), when one side started behaving like MMA fighters it was time to drop the façade.

The Hammer
lehi, utah

The hypocrisy of the democrats in congress is laughable but thats okay the rule should never have been used to keep the president from doing his consitutional duty of appointing judges. Its just too bad that democrats started this partisanship back in the bush years to keep a hispanic judge off the DC circuit.

BYUtah Fan
Herriman, UT

@mcdugall: If, as many people are predicting, young people refuse to sign up in the exchanges and simply pay the penalty, then the ACA will be a disaster for the insurance companies. While your cynicism is healthy, where money and politics cross, repealing obamacare would be such a huge political victory for the republicans, i really doubt they could resist.

Trust Logic
Brigham City, UT, 00

I would like to add one more irony to those in former Senator Bennett's article. By abusing a loophole in the system instead of governing themselves (as he points out the Senate used to do), the Republicans have given, or at least justified the taking of, power to the Democrats! Whenever we fail to control ourselves and the desire to 'have it our way' above anything else, we will inevitably lose freedoms.

It seems to me the Republican Senators are giving the Democrats a gun and saying, "Shoot me in the foot or I'll punch you in the face. Then they cry foul when the do it!"

Thank you Bob for your explanation.

Leesburg, VA

>>Republicans have blocked SOME of his nominees? Some? Try more than half...

That assertion is provably false. As of March 2013, President Obama had issued 207 nominations for federal judgeships. And by March 2013, Congress had confirmed 182. Only 25 were still awaiting Congressional hearings and not all of those were being filibustered. And Obama got both of his Supreme Court nominations confirmed without a single hitch.

182 out of 207 is a confirmation rate of 88%...just shy of 9 out of 10. So how does filibustering less than 1 out of 10 even qualify as obstructionism?

Salt Lake City, UT

The GOP in the Senate have used the filibuster against nominees with whom they have no qualms over their qualifications. They are using the filibuster as a means of political blackmail. They'll filibuster a nominee pending seeing if they can blackmail their way on someting, and then the nominee will be unanimously approved. They've used the filibuster more than all other congresses combined in the history of the country and they are not using those filibusters over objections to the nominees but rather as a means of trying to blackmail their way on other issues.

As others have said here, the GOP brought this on themselves.

Bountiful, UT

With the pretense of comity gone from the Senate, and a severe identity crisis among Republicans, the rule change will probably benefit Democratic presidents alone, since changing demographics and a Republican propensity to insult the poor and minorities make it look like we'll have a Democratic presidents for the foreseeable future.

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