Senate Republicans are continuing their procedural strong-arm tactics in an effort to force confirmation votes on the president’s most controversial circuit court nominees. In this morning’s session of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican members invoked Rule XXVI, aka "the two-hour rule” to cut short the first of a series of hearings on the importance of the United States Supreme Court.
This is the second time in two days committee Republicans have used the tactic; they employed it yesterday to cut short a Judiciary Committee hearing on torture. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) reportedly observed that he regretted the rule was invoked again today, and referred to the machinations as "an embarrassment on the part of my institution."
By invoking the rule – which states that no committee may conduct business after the full Senate has been in session for two hours without unanimous consent – committee Republicans have almost managed to call off hearings scheduled for today on four of President Bush’s own district court nominees. What’s that saying about cutting off your nose to spite your face?
Today’s shenanigans come just days after Senate Republicans effectively killed the Senate’s greenhouse emissions bill as payback for what they see as Sen. Reid’s refusal to push through three circuit court nominees before Memorial Day recess. Of course, Sen. Reid rightly notes that it was Republican obstructionism that prevented him from being able to move the nominees.
Clearly, Senate GOPers are gearing up for an election year row over judges. They are practically salivating over the thought of another vacancy on the Supreme Court. Recent posts on both the American Spectator Blog and ConfirmThem have suggested that Bush should be ready to nominate a new justice on the off chance that “Justice Stephens [sic], in his late 1980s [sic]…wants to go out the way he came in, under a Republican president.”
Maybe Senate Republicans should focus more on doing the work of the American people than on putting on another election year edition of Political Theater.