Thursday, May 12, 2005


Technorati tag:I've been up since about 3:30 am, awakened by one of the strangest animal noises I've ever heard--roughly a cross between a whining dog and John Cale's squeaky-wheel viola on "Black Angel's Death Song" from the first Velvet Underground album. Investigation revealed two raccoons in our front-yard elm, first a fatso who gingerly backed down the trunk and waddled away, then a smaller, svelter one who made a forward descent and scampered off in the same direction. Whether it was love or war or just existential angst going on up in that tree I can't say, but whatever it was it WOKE ME UP and I wish to God I had some sort of firearm at the ready because if I did the kids would be getting coonskin caps for Christmas.

Speaking of shrieking vermin, how about that U.S. Senate? I have a radical proposal on this judicial filibuster nonsense which I don't remember seeing discussed elsewhere (not that I've made much of a search): Prohibit filibusters for all lower court nominees, including the Court of Appeals, but allow them for Supreme Court nominees.

At first glance this might seem from a Republican perspective to be giving away too much to the Democrats, who after all are only gearing up for one of the doddering old Justices to (as it were) back down the trunk and waddle away. But the dynamics of filibusters for infrequent, high-profile events like Supreme Court nominations would be much different than what's going on now.

The most irksome thing about the Democrats' "filibustering" of the current nominees is that they don't actually have to do any blowhard-reading-telephone-book-type filibustering; merely threatening to do it is enough. This is because (as Larry Solum pointed out over two years ago) the proponents of a filibuster have, somewhat counter-intuitively, a huge tactical advantage, in that the opponents can force debate only if they can maintain a quorum, whereas the proponents need only play tag-team with the telephone book. Since this situation is much more burdensome on the opponents, it doesn't happen, and what is ostensibly a device for ensuring debate is reduced to the naked obstructionism that's going on now.

But--and this is the key point--with a Supreme Court nomination, the stakes are so high that the majority Republicans would undoubtedly have the incentive to maintain a quorum even if it meant all-night sessions, which in turn would force the minority Democrats to "debate." In an age of 24-hour news channels, wouldn't this make the Democrats look awful? (Remember that Joe Blow doesn't give a damn about regular judicial nominations or filibusters or obstructionism or supermajorities or blah blah blah, but he and everyone else pays attention to a Supreme Court nomination.)

My proposal has two other points in its favor. First, it would reflect what had been the historical practice in the Senate until four years ago, wherein the only successful judicial filibuster was the Abe Fortas nomination for Chief Justice. Second, it would create an incentive for the President to make filibuster-proof Supreme Court nominations--jurists of high intellectual distinction and/or non-"extreme" ideology. From a long-run perspective--from behind the Rawlsian veil of ignorance, as they say--this would I think be a good thing, assuming the rule was a fixed one that didn't change every time the minority party in the Senate became the majority.

Okay, enough of that. I have to go buy a gun.


The Secret Service has been notified.

By Blogger Chad The Elder, at 10:10 AM  

We need to do something different about judical appointments. Lets elect them. However, a huge groundswell or movement needs to take place to oust many lame Senators.

By Blogger T.L. Stanley, at 4:25 AM  

On second thought, maybe we should just start a movement to defeat all of the Senators in the next election and start over.

By Blogger T.L. Stanley, at 4:28 AM  

You should get an airgun instead of a real firearm for your pest problem (the racoons and squirrels, not the US Senators). Here are some good options: www.airgunexpress.com.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:37 PM  

I love the foll. at www.PyramydAir.com. This Talon SS is something else. The coons wont know where it's coming from...

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:45 AM  

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