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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Curious Case of Abe Fortas

In the short time I've been blogging, I've learned that there are a few absolutes in dealing with liberals. Today we'll examine one of my favorites: "If a liberal claims that someone is lying, they are not only telling the truth, but have hit upon something deeper that the libs desperately want to bury." Case in point, the abbreviated career of Justice Abe Fortas.

"Remember Abe Fortas!" has become the knee-jerk, liberal reaction to any claim that the current Democratic filibusters are unprecedented. Abe Fortas (not to be confused the irreplaceable Abe Vigoda) was a Supreme Court Justice nominated by Lyndon Johnson in 1965. So far, so good, no filibuster. In 1968 however, Johnson nominated Fortas to replace Earl Warren as Chief Justice. Poor old Abe's nomination was filibustered by the Republicans and eventually withered on the vine. This is where liberals abruptly end the story and refuse to say anything else except "Bush Lied!"

While all of that is technically true, the devil is in the details, and since they seem to make our liberal friends so upset, lets take a closer look. First of all, while 24 Republicans were responsible for the filibuster, so were 13 Democrats. What were the other 10 Republican Senators doing? They were trying to bring the nomination to a vote. This was a bipartisan filibuster in the truest sense of the word, and bears no resemblance to the strictly partisan process occurring today (unless you count the turncoat Republicans, I'm looking at you Mr. Voinovich).

Second, it's informative to look at the reasons for the filibuster. As one would expect from a bipartisan filibuster, this had nothing to do with ideology. The issue before the Senate was a $15,000 speaking engagement Fortas had accepted while serving on the court. It was a major faux pas at the time, and the only reason for the filibuster.

So when Republicans say the current filibusters are "unprecedented", they are not lying, the Fortas filibuster has nothing in common with today's situation. That said, it's not the facts of this filibuster that Democrats want to bury most, it's the epilogue. Just one short year after being denied the role of Chief Justice, Abe Fortas was forced to resign from the court altogether. It seems the good judge had also accepted $20,000 from a financier who was under investigation for securities fraud (and later convicted). Contrary to liberal dogma, the congress does have a means to "defend democracy from the courts", and it's not the filibuster. When a judge's behavior is so appalling as to be a threat to democracy, the people (acting through congress) have the power to impeach him or her. It's an extreme move, and it's meant to be, in order to protect the judiciary from the political process while still keeping an emergency hatch to preserve democracy.

If the President's nominations were as terrible as the Democrats have charged, they could threaten them with impeachment and have them removed. Lacking serious charges and fueled only by naked partisanship, the Democrats have no choice but the unconstitutional measure of the judicial filibuster. The system works, as the case of Abe Fortas proves out, and the Democrats in the Senate are trying to circumvent it for political gain.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Brash" (nice name) I'm sorry to report, my anger is fizzling to apathy toward your site.

Sure, Bush and all his cronies in the Senate said that there has NEVER been a filibuster of judicial nominees in the 200 plus years of the US.

Sure, there was a "bipartisan" FILIBUSTER of a JUDICIAL NOMINEE led by Republicans (funny how you made the point about the Dems being part of it too, but the tone of your whole post is a defense of a Republican filibuster) against a Democrat's nominee.

But there is no lie? Uh, once my brain cools down, I'll continue....

So it doesn't count because the Republicans had good reason. Well, guess what? Democrats have their reasons which they believe to be pretty damn good, too. There's a major hole in your argument. Look up logical fallacies on google, and get back to me on that one.

Also, re-read your final paragraph. It's pretty laughable how you burn yourself. Why did they need to filibuster Abe if the "system" was going to deal with him? He ended up resigning, proving the fears correct. But what does that have to do with filibusters? So it's OK to filibuster if the Judge is going to be a "bad judge", but you should wait until it happens so you can impeach them. Either you can foresee the future, or you better check those google results again.

5/03/2005 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger Brash Limburg said...

First of all, have the guts to leave a name, only takes a second. Now, on to your mistakes.

First, it is not a lie to claim this sort of partisan filibuster based on idealogy is unprecendented. It didn't happen with Fortas, it is happening here. Second, my point about impeachment was this: the constitution provides a means of removing dangerous judges. It requires a lot more than the minority required for a filibuster for a reason (to prevent the kind of political crap we're seeing). And by the way, this isn't my idea; Alexander Hamilton makes the same point in Federalist Paper No. 81.

Nice try though, thanks for reading, and if you'd care to rebut I'd love to here it.

5/03/2005 07:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I guess you have to have it spelled out for you. Very well.

First, are you seriously claiming that Republicans weren't saying there has never been a filibuster... of any kind? That's what they were (and still are) telling the American public on just about every radio program, nightly cable news show, and every single Sunday morning. I have not heard once (unless challenged [HA! the media challenging the Repubs]) a republican make the distinction you have tried to make.

Now, we both know what they are claiming is not strictly true (and I'm betting if you or I know, the Senators might know as well). You admit a filibuster HAS been used in the past (by mostly Repubs against a Democrat). Is that being picky? No. The point is that the Republican's want the people to believe this is so 'out there' as to demonize the Dems. And they are lying to do it.

If you claim that Repubs have been clear on their distinction of "this sort" of filibuster, than we'll have to just disagree on that, and I'd say you are not only misguided, but dishonest (or just stupid - and clearly that's not the case).

If you do admit Repubs have made no distinction, then I've won already. When someone claims that something didn't happen, when they know it did. Ta Da! They lied.

While I think this is very relevant (it's another in a long line of cases where Republicans misguide the public), you might not think so. And the bigger picture is that the current buster is the same as the one on good ole Abe. Something you have failed to grasp. I have to hand feed you a simple argument first.

Here's the current situation with the Dems:
There is a filibuster on Person X to prevent him from taking the nominated position. They are doing this because, if voted on, the nomination will be approved. They are doing this even though there is an impeachment process that would be able to deal with the Judge, if their fears are proven true. This is bad.

Wait, wait - that was the Abe situation... no the current situation... oh hell, it's BOTH.

Let me just breakdown the points you need to recognize:

- The Repubs are claiming NO filibuster has been used. That's all the unwashed masses hear them say, the Repubs know it, and it is a lie.

- Hamilton would be against the Fortas filibuster as well. Also, I find it funny that you try and throw his name in my face. I've studied the Federalist Papers. You throw it out there to support a point that isn't even in conflict because...

- I never said I believe the filibuster is a good thing. We lost, the Congress, the Presidency, and now we have to take our medicine. The fact that the Dems are doing wrong by using the filibuster is not the point here. It's that Republicans are trying to demonize them lying about how their actions are unprecedented.

- You seem to be caught up in the difference in the reason for the filibuster of Fortas and the current ones by Dems. This is irrelevant to my argument and I made no claim that the reasons are the same. The point I'm making is that despite ANY reason, Filibusters on judicial nominees have been used. If the reason for filibustering was SO bad, the person wouldn't be passed in a majority vote.

- Further, AND THIS IS KEY, if the problem the Repubs had is the ideology behind the filibustering, they would be screaming to high heaven the whole litmus test deal, etc (which by the way we probably agree on). That's fine. Argue that the Dems are being partisan. Argue that they are just standing in the corner like a little kid. Fine. But we're talking SPECIFICALLY about the fact that they are claiming that the Dems are using something that has NEVER been used. How dastardly!!! What an outrage!!! Well, it HAS been used. It's a lie.

- Well "Brash Limburg". My name is "Huffy Jones". There, do I have more guts by using an untraceable alias? What a joke.

OK - I can't believe I typed all that in a comment. Wasted my time explaining something that you would not agree with even if God himself told you it were true. Oh well. Your blog is SO unoriginal; no one is going to read it anyway. Another guy trying to be Rush Limbaugh. Keep giving it your best shot. Keep practicing, little guy.

5/04/2005 08:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously Huffy Jones doesn't get the tongue and cheek nature of this blog.

5/04/2005 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Brash Limburg said...

First of all, yes Huffy, that does help. Now I'll know to set aside a few hours the next time I see your name at the top of a post.

You have a gift for streching a single point into a novella, and for that I commend you. You're desperate to prove that Republican's lied by saying no judge has ever been filibustered, yet you concede that the Fortas filibuster was completely different than this one, that the Democrats are behaving irresponsibly and that the filibuster itself is a bad thing.

Thank you for validating all the points that really matter, and if it makes you feel better: YES, THEY LIED! THEY LIED LIED LIED.

Or maybe they mispoke, or maybe people are too dumb to tell the difference. Either way it's just a dumb game of gotcha.

And I can't believe you find my site's dynamic color scheme and awesome graphics unoriginal, I'll have to work on that.

5/06/2005 11:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First - I admit that my previous post was lengthy. But as I indicated, it is because you didn't seem to comprehend my point when I was a bit more pithy. And you still don't.

Second - I NEVER admitted that the filibusters were different. That's your point. I said they had different reasons behind them, which is to be expected since they are different cases separated by 40 years. The whole point is that while I admit that the current filibusters are wrong, the Fortas filibuster was also wrong and for the exact same, RELEVANT reasons.

And third, it's typical that you think the fact that Repubs are lying is not one of the relevant issues. You people try to paint everything Democrats say with a Big Lie brush - that we are just repeating and repeating broad statements like "Bush Lied" with out any support. Then when we point out when the Repubs are being disingenuous, it's just a game of gotcha. Besides, it was you who brought up this irrelevant point. Your original post claimed they did not lie. Blame yourself if you think it's irrelevant.

Anyway, what needs to be pointed out is that while the Dems happen to be wrong on this one, the Repubs are also wrong by trying to say this sort of thing never happened. Because it has. Like I said... IN BOTH MY PRIOR POSTS... they can call them out on it, and argue they shouldn't. I'm not even that opposed to the nuclear option. But as always, they go one step further, into dishonesty.

5/09/2005 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger Brash Limburg said...

"and argue they shouldn't"


If you reread my post, I stated right out that what the Dems are claiming is technically true. That said, it was a case of the emperor having no clothes since the details don't really bear out the analogy.

The bottom line is why do you care? The only thing I can figure is that you're afraid people will just hear that general statement and take it at face value. Fair enough, but according to the polls that's not happening. And at any rate, since when are good soundbites considered dirty politics?

5/09/2005 01:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, as I've said in my numerous, loooong posts, it is not only technically a lie, but a lie with substance.

When the President nominates a Judge (or any other position) it is the Congress' duty to approve or deny the nominee - not delay. Just as when Congress passes a bill, the President should either sign or veto it - not delay. On this, we seem to agree.

But you seem to believe that it is the reason behind the filibuster that makes them so different. I don't care if there is a good reason, or not; whether it's partisan, ideological, or heart-felt. The point is, the Abe case and the current cases are wrong for the same reason. That is why it's not playing gotcha.

As for why do I care? Why shouldn't I. Members of Congress are distorting the recond (I would argue purposely, since I'm sure a Senator is aware of this if you and I are) in order to put their opposition in a bad light. That's wrong. And further, it's yet another indication of Repubs twisting the truth too far.

Well - you can have the last word, unless you say something outrageous in response. There are other cons out there to bother.

And BTW, thanks for pointing out a typo: "and argue they shouldn't". The fact that I don't proofread my comments really destroys the substance of what I'm saying (yeah, yeah - make some stupid remark about how my comments have no substance, or somesuch bullshit)Talk about a game of gotcha. What a douche.

5/09/2005 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Brash Limburg said...

"Members of Congress are distorting the recond (I would argue purposely, since I'm sure a Senator is aware of this if you and I are) in order to put their opposition in a bad light."

And that's where your argument goes off the rails dear Huffy. You just don't seem to get this. You don't seem to get the whole reason I posted this to begin with. You're so concerned with proving that someone lied that you've lost the substance of the argument completely. I can't blame you though, watching Micheal Moore movies over and over will do that.

Let me ask you this. If the Americans knew the entire story and did the compare and contrast like we have, would that make them more or less likely to support the Repubs? I would say more likely, which eliminates any reason to "lie" about it in the first place. Unfortunately most of America doesn't read this site (yet), and so the current Republican talking points do the same job. That's just politics in the media age, I'm sorry it upsets you so much.

5/10/2005 12:20:00 PM  
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