This Los Angeles Times article on the filibuster of Charles Pickering, Sr. includes the following two paragraphs:
After the vote, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) predicted that the Republican Senate majority would soon take steps to suppress the Democrats’ ability to use filibusters to thwart judicial nominees.
He said that the framers of the Constitution did not envision that a minority of senators would be able to block a nomination on the Senate floor.
What is Hatch thinking? Readers of this blog will recall that Senator Lott made similar statements months ago during the Estrada filibuster, where he threatened the “nuclear option.” Among other things the idea was that Republicans would reverse the filibuster rules by a simple majority vote.
Don’t count on it. As I have explained in detail here, it would not be rational for Republicans to eliminate the filibuster though it is rational for them to threaten to do so. Democrats have an incentive to filibuster only a handful of the judicial candidates that they can market to their base as the most extreme. If the filibuster were used more widely, the “obstructionist” label used by Republicans would start to stick.
In the meantime, Republicans try to get as much mileage out of the controversy as possible. The Pickering vote was obviously timed to try to affect the outcome of the Mississippi gubernatorial race.
I expect this pattern of selective filibustering and name-calling to continue without much change until after the 2004 elections. If Bush is reelected and Republicans gain strength in the Senate, Democratic filibusters will likely disappear or be curtailed. If Bush is reelected and Democrats gain strength, I expect that Bush will either moderate his nominees or the filibusters will continue. If a Democrat is elected, I expect Republicans to block judicial nominations of some Democratic nominees, by filibuster if necessary. Democrats, of course, will then deride the filibusters as hypocritical.
Business in Washington continues as usual.
The Los Angeles Times offers this report.
The Houston Chronicle offers Redistricting Challenges Trial Date Chosen. Thanks to Jim Dedman for the pointer.
A.P. offers this report, which begins: “Doubts about the trustworthiness of electronic voting machines are growing among election officials and computer scientists, complicating efforts to safeguard elections after the presidential stalemate of 2000.”
USC-Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics will be holding a conference, Post-Mortem on the Recall, on November 13 and 14. Details here. The conference is sponsored by the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, the Annenberg School for Communication at USC, the USC/Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics, the Initiative and Referendum Institute, the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles, and the California Center for Education in Public Affairs.
Henry Brady has set up this page with his collection of analyses of error rates with punch card voting in California. Most important is his new document, “Detailed Analysis of Punch Card Performance in the Twenty Largest California Counties in 1996, 2000, and 2003.” One of his conclusions:
Summary of Results from 1996 to 2003
Stuart Rothenberg offers this oped in Roll Call (paid subscription required). He takes the same position I took here earlier this week: that re-redistricting in the same decade is bad policy, but not unconstitutional. He adds: “I might feel differently if I thought that Democrats really were standing on principle. But I didn
A.P. is here. The Metropolitan News Enterprise is here.
See this A.P. report. The effect is dwarfed by the problems with punch cards, as chronicled here.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is holding a forum on this topic December 10 and 11 in Maryland. Details here.
California Assemblymember Mark Ridley-Thomas and law professor Erwin Chemerinsky offer this L.A. Times oped. My thoughts on Ridley-Thomas’s proposals are posted here.
The appellants in the touch screen case (noted here yesterday) have announced their intention to seek en banc review of the ruling.
Roll Call offers this report (paid subscription required), which begins: “Senators signaled their commitment this week to move quickly on the nominations of four individuals to the new Election Assistance Commission
Marty Lederman notes here that the First Circuit case (referred to a few posts below this one) creates a circuit split. Fritz Schranck offers his thoughts on the case here.