This morning on the floor of the Senate, Sen. Chuck Schumer asked Majority Leader Bill Frist a simple question:
SEN. SCHUMER: Isn’t it correct that on March 8, 2000, my colleague [Sen. Frist] voted to uphold the filibuster of Judge Richard Paez?
SEN. FRIST: The president, the um, in response, uh, the Paez nomination – we’ll come back and discuss this further. … Actually I’d like to, and it really brings to what I believe – a point – and it really brings to, oddly, a point, what is the issue. The issue is we have leadership-led partisan filibusters that have, um, obstructed, not one nominee, but two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, in a routine way.
So, Frist is arguing that one filibuster is OK. His problem is that several Bush nominees have been filibustered. This position completely undercuts Frist’s argument that judicial filibusters are unconstitutional. (Which is, in turn, the justification for the nuclear option.) If judicial filibusters are unconstitutional there is no freebee. But Frist digs his hole even deeper:
SEN. FRIST: The issue is not cloture votes per se, it’s the partisan, leadership-led use of cloture votes to kill – to defeat – to assassinate these nominees. That’s the difference. Cloture has been used in the past on this floor to postpone, to get more info, to ask further questions.
When Frist voted to filibuster Paez’s nomination it had been pending for four years. It’s hard to believe he couldn’t get all the info he needed or ask all the questions he had during that time. Make no mistake about it: Bill Frist was trying to kill the Paez nomination. A press release issued the following day by former Sen. Bob Smith, who organized the filibuster effort, read “Smith Leads Effort to Block Activist Judges.” All the details about Frist’s hypocrisy here.