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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Gullible's Travails: Edition 1

Another topic that I'm sad to say will be a regular part of CCM's coverage will be the tendency of some reporters to publish rightwing distortions without pointing out their -- shall we say -- tenuous relationship to reality.

Our first Gullible's Travails award goes to Peter Baker and Charles Babington for their article in today's Post. Consider this quote:

Republicans point out that no Supreme Court nominee has ever been filibustered except Abe Fortas in 1968, when it was unclear that Fortas, an associate justice, had majority support for confirmation as chief justice.

I told you to watch for these verbal shell games -- if he didn't have majority support, why did conservatives filibuster him? Anyway, that's not what wins Baker & Babington their prize. No, it's this gem:
"Throughout the history of the republic, Supreme Court nominations receive an up-or-down vote," Rove said. "We expect the Senate will" hold such a vote, he added.

This claim, unqualified by Baker & Babington, is difficult to reconcile with this item from Sunday's NYT, which says that
Since President Washington nominated John Jay as the first justice, 12 nominees have been rejected by the Senate. Another 16 or so nominees withdrew or declined their nominations, or had their votes postponed (the passive-aggressive way to reject).


Blogger strategery4 said...

Rove may be getting a bit Clintonian, but his statement is not technically inaccurate, just highly misleading. It is true that, if you look at the history of the Republic, you can find many instances in which SC nominations did receive up-or-down votes. It's just not true in all instances, as you point out. And the 12 that were rejected by the Senate don't disprove the point either, since they presumably got a vote too.

But you're on the money about the Fortas filibuster -- if opponents really had the votes they didn't need to do it. And in any case why is having "unclear" support an exception to the up-or-down vote "requirement" -- if that's your position, then call the vote and see what happens. Perhaps the more troubling precedent, though, is why Dems did NOT filibuster Thomas, who was and is obviously an unqualified (in both senses) ideologue.

7/07/2005 10:07 AM  
Blogger strategery4 said...

Until now I hadn't fully absorbed the quote you included about Fortas -- specifically, that he was already on the court and it was only his promotion to Chief Justice that was being filibustered. I think that weakens the Dems case for precedent somewhat, since the the Repubs can argue that nobody has been kept off the court by a filibister. Seems a bit more solid to me than that that business about "leader-led partisan filibusters" (try saying that three times fast) that you rightly skewered earlier. And as for why anyone would bother to filibuster Fortas under those circumstances, it beats the hell out of me.

7/08/2005 10:13 AM  

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