FRIST STANDING UP
Robert Novak notes that the GOP leadership in the Senate may finally get serious about carrying out their Constitutional responsibility of confirming judges appointed by the president.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, frustrated by the audacious campaign of Democrats blocking judicial confirmations, begins a counteroffensive this week. He will start by returning to one of President Bush’s nominees generally given up for dead. The effort will accelerate throughout this congressional session into mid-November, with one roll-call vote after another.
None of this may confirm any of the federal appellate court nominees marked for defeat by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the Democratic grandmaster, because they are deemed too conservative. This effort is intended to ”refocus” (the word used by GOP strategists) on the unprecedented filibuster campaign to prevent a sitting president from selecting his own judiciary. The refocused struggle would peak early in the 2004 election year with a frontal assault on filibuster rules. Although no justice seems ready to leave the Supreme Court of his own volition this year, control of the highest court is ultimately at stake.
The GOP base, needed intact to re-elect George W. Bush, is angry — angry with Kennedy’s Democrats for blocking the judges, angry with Frist’s Republicans for not trying harder. That could cost Bush’s re-election if nothing is done.
Indeed. There’s not much point in voting for a Republican president and congress if they’re too passive to actually govern when in power. Both President Bush and the so-far ineffective Majority Leader have been less than aggressive on this issue. At very least, Bush should have used his recess appointment power to install every one of the judges who have yet to receive an up-or-down vote.