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The Samuel Alito Confirmation Should Be Thoroughly Debated In The Senate, Not Simply Given A Quick Rubber-Stamp Approval

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In his radio address to the Nation last Saturday, President Bush attempted to order the United States Senate to give him a "prompt up-or-down vote" on his nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the United States Supreme Court. Bush's exact words were, "Now the Senate has a duty to give Judge Alito a prompt up-or-down vote."

Immediately we can see three things wrong with this statement.

1. First, the President has no right to tell the Senate what it must or must not do. The duties of the Senate are clearly spelled out in our Constitution, for all to see. You can easily find copies at and and elsewhere. United States Senators do not need the President to inform them of their duties.

What the President is trying to do here, I believe, is to make the Country falsely believe that the Senate must do something it really does not need to do. This would be consistent with the many other times the President has tried to make us believe things which are not really true, such as the existence of Weapons Of Mass Destruction in Iraq, for instance, or that he had been wiretapping U. S. citizens only after obtaining lawful warrants.

2. Second, the Senate, in fact, has no such duty to provide the President with an "up-or-down vote," on this nomination or on anything else. The Senate does have the Constitutional right and obligation to make its own rules, and then to follow them. But nowhere in the Constitution or in the Senate Rules does it say or imply that the Senate is required to give the President any kind of vote on any matter. To make such a requirement would violate the principle of "separation of powers," which the Founders followed meticulously.

(To see the Senate Rules, please go here => or here => In fact, the Senate has the option: it may or may not give the President the vote he so desperately wants, as it chooses.

3. Third, and most important: Nobody can enforce promptness except the Senate itself, following its own duly-enacted Rules. And under these Rules, debate on this nomination, or debate on any other similar motion, cannot be cut off unless three fifths of all Senators (duly chosen and sworn) agree to it, or unless the Rules are amended. And it takes a two-thirds vote of the Senators (present and voting) to amend the Rules.

The exact text from Rule 22 is shown below: . . .

"Is it the sense of the Senate that the debate shall be brought to a close?" And if that question shall be decided in the affirmative by three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn -- except on a measure or motion to amend the Senate rules, in which case the necessary affirmative vote shall be two-thirds of the Senators present and voting -- then said measure, motion, or other matter pending before the Senate, or the unfinished business, shall be the unfinished business to the exclusion of all other business until disposed of.


Therefore there is no such thing as any "Nuclear Option," by which the Chair could simply rule that further debate is out of order, thereby stopping it. Any such talk is pure nonsense, because that would be an clear violation of the Senate's own Rules, which require three-fifths to cut off debate, or two thirds to amend. And if the honorable Members of the Senate were to go along with such an obvious charade, I would expect that the Supreme Court would rule that the Senate's "Consent" was null and void because the Senate had failed to follow its own Rules of Procedure. So the so-called "Nuclear Option" is a big bluff. And if the President and his agents in the Senate try to do it anyway, they will have violated their oath to support the Constitution.

So why, I wonder, is the President so anxious for a quick, hurried, gotta-do-it-now kind of vote? What's the big rush? Isn't it much more important to "do it right" than to "do it quick," in this case? Is he afraid that some Senators may change their minds about Alito, and vote against him? - that they might have second thoughts about him, after they have an unhurried opportunity to sit down and think clearly about this important decision, a lifetime appointment for a man who may very well change the entire direction of our Country?

We do not need to hear more testimony from Judge Alito. He has apparently already told us everything he is willing to tell. He doesn't even need to be in the room. And we certainly don't need his relatives to be there, lovely as they may be.

What we do need is a clear-headed opportunity to sit back and consider the direction in which we want our Country to move. The Senate needs to take its time, in solemn consideration of all the relevant facts, and of the implications of those facts.

Do we want to move in the direction of the "Unitary Executive Theory," which Adolph Hitler called "Fuehrerprinzip," or "Leadership Principle?" This is the direction that President Bush has been trying to move us in - the direction toward vastly expanded Presidential power, where Congress is merely an advisor, not a true lawmaker, and where the Leader basically has ultimate authority over everything the Government does. Samuel Alito has a background of solid support for this dangerous and radical doctrine, along with solid personal support for George W. Bush. We could very well be moving quickly into a Dictatorship, with George W. Bush as our Dictator.

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Rev. Bill McGinnis is an Internet Christian minister, writer and publisher. He is Director of, a small private think tank in Alexandria, Virginia, and all of its related websites, including (more...)
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