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Sunday, June 19, 2005

A Culture of Cooperation

A few weeks ago fourteen senators fashioned a compromise that preserved the right of the U.S. Senate to filibuster judicial nominees. Since that time I have been asked on a few occasions where I stand on the issue.

The short answer is that I would have sided with the 14 senators who negotiated the compromise. I would have done so because I believe it is vital that the rights of the minority be protected in this country -- and often the filibuster is the only method for protecting and preserving those rights.

That being said, I think that leaders in both the Democratic and Republican parties have been guilty of abusing this right in the past. Specifically, I believe that in recent years a number of competent judges have been held hostage by extreme elements in both parties and been unfairly denied a vote on their appointment.

The fact is that most of the judges nominated by both President Clinton and, more recently by President Bush, have been thoughtful interpreters of the law and the vast majority of these individuals deserve to “have their day in court” by having an up-or-down vote in the U.S. Senate.

The bottom-line is that the U.S. Senate has the power to regulate itself in matters such as these. It does not need to resort to extreme measures like the “nuclear option” -- disavowing all filibusters on judicial nominations. What it needs is a strong dose of common sense and it must work to restore a culture of cooperation in the U.S. Senate; and as the first elected Independence Party senator that is precisely what I intend to do.

Jack Uldrich