A History Lesson on Judicial Appointments From Chief Justice Rehnquist

Today on the Senate floor, Sen. Bill Frist made his distorted and manipulative case that it’s an abrogation of a Senator’s duty not to confirm each and every one of President Bush’s judicial nominees.

FRIST: “The American people elect their Senators for a reason. It’s to represent them. And they expect us to do our job. The Senate is a deliberative body. We are a proudly deliberative body. But we also have certain responsibilities, which include giving advice and consent on the President’s judicial nominees. When a judicial nominee comes to this floor and has majority support, but is denied a simple up-or-down vote, Senators aren’t doing their job.”

Senator Frist and the right-wing establishment aren’t happy with receiving 95 percent of their judicial nominees. They want them all. Make no mistake about it, calling for approval by a simple majority vote is in essence calling for a Senatorial rubber-stamp. Senator Frist needs a history lesson from the decidedly conservative Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

In 1987, Chief Justice Rehnquist said it was “extraordinarily shrewd” of the Framers to have structured the advice and consent powers as they did because the conflicts over judicial appointments ensures both a balance of power and quality candidates. From a 9/17/87 article in UPI:


Rehnquist also touched on the importance of the Constitution’s appointment clause, which allows presidents to nominate officials for certain government posts but requires the Senate to confirm them.

“This seemingly simple clause has been a bone of contention between the president and Congress and between the president and public officials at various times in our history. These conflicts and their resolutions show that the framers were extraordinarily shrewd in protecting one branch of the federal government from the unwarranted incursions of the other,’’ Rehnquist told a Monroe County Bar Association gathering in Rochester.

Protecting the Legislative Branch from incursions of the Executive Branch — a novel idea that Frist and right-wingers see as an annoying obstacle in their quest for more power.