David Limbaugh

The best way to understand the brouhaha over the Republican plan to invoke the constitutional option to prohibit Senate filibusters to thwart judicial nominations is that Democrats are very poor losers, but Republicans are even poorer winners -- so far.

The reason we're even talking about a so-called " nuclear option" is that Democrat leaders remain in denial about their consistent drubbing at the ballot box. They won't accept that the public has rejected their message.

They are acting like the ornery little brother who hits his older brother, and when big brother merely threatens to hit back, he goes running to mommy, telling her his big bad older brother hit him first.

This whole flap is not that complicated. Republicans won the presidential and congressional elections. The Republican president is therefore entitled under the Constitution to appoint judges, with the Senate having the right to pass on the competency and character of the nominees.

The Senate does not have coequal authority with the president on judicial appointments as the advice-and-consent function was not intended to confer veto power on the Senate.

While Democrats are doing most of the bellyaching, they drew first blood in this skirmish by changing the ground rules in reversing nearly half a century of precedent by filibustering certain judicial nominations.

In response, Republicans have threatened that unless the Democrats quit breaking the rules, they will implement a formal rule change to effect a restoration of the status quo such that judicial nominees can be confirmed on a simple majority vote of the Senate.

Democrats, being the consummate spinmeisters they are, have characterized this "threat" to restore the status quo as a draconian move by the Republicans. But let's not forget that they are the ones who went "nuclear" in the first place by departing from the established practice of not filibustering judicial nominations. But like the little brother, they're trying to paint the Republicans as the wrongdoers.

With all the hype over procedural squabbles we're missing a more important point. In the end, this isn't just a struggle over Senate rules or which side is being more gentlemanly. What is at stake in this ongoing fight over judicial nominations is nothing less than the integrity of the Constitution, the independence of the judiciary, the separation of powers, and ultimately, the preservation of popular sovereignty.


David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh, brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, is an expert on law and politics. He recently authored the New York Times best-selling book: "Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel."

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