True Compass 3 – Confirmation Hearings

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) meets with Sup...Image via WikipediaStill talking about True Compass by Edward (Ted) Kennedy and no I am not going to go through the whole book. I want to talk about a time Senator Kennedy describes when the Democrats (Senators) held hearings (as they do today) to confirm Nixon’s Supreme Court appointees. In those contentious days there was often quite a distance between what Republicans and Democrats wanted (also as is true today.) The Senate was not divided, in those days, on strictly partisan lines though, but more on a North-South divide. Up to this time the Senate usually rubber-stamped a President’s Supreme Court appointees, but this was not required by the Constitution. The Senate is supposed to act as a check on the President in this regard

The Democrats under Nixon, along with some Republicans were the first to decline to confirm a Supreme Court appointee. And they did it twice. They would have liked to turn down a third appointee, but the country had no stomach for it. This precedent has come back to bite the Democrats in the case of the hearing for Elena Kagan. Although it looks like she will be confirmed, I have heard Republicans pointing the finger (not that finger) at Democrats saying, “You set a precedent. We could decline this candidate, if we wished. It would be payback. It would not mean that we would always support cutthroat confirmation hearings.”

Regardless of (or maybe because of) how holier than thou they sound I sincerely wish we could sit on the Republicans for a long, long time. They have really not changed their tune at all between Nixon and now (perhaps between the Civil War and now). It’s a monotone tune without harmony. We do need a third party, but not the tea party. So reactionary. We need a liberal hand for a while.

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