'The Spirit of Cabal and Intrigue'

We may thank God that the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito for the United States Supreme Court is finally where it belongs — the floor of the United States Senate. Perhaps James Madison and Alexander Hamilton can now stop spinning in their graves.

Article II, Section II of the United States Constitution makes it plain: The President of the United States will nominate justices to the Supreme Court with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Constitution says the Senate — not a committee thereof — the entire Senate.

That a nomination that was made this past October is just now leaving the Judiciary Committee for a floor vote is a mockery of any sense of fairness and constitutional responsibility. It is also an indictment of all who have undermined the process by delay, most notably Chairman Arlen Specter and the gang of bullies named Leahy, Kennedy, Schumer, Durbin and Feingold who routinely go back on 'promises' made to the gullible Sen. Specter.

Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 76 that the advice and consent role of the entire Senate regarding the judiciary and executive nominees was merely a check on cronyism and nepotism (for example, a President nominating his brother for Attorney General), not a dissertation defense. The Senate's role was to assure that nominees were qualified, and that's about it. Hamilton wrote:

'To what purpose then require the co—operation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity.'

Would that Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin participate in a 'silent operation.'

Perhaps the salient line that can be taken from Federalist No. 76 is Mr. Hamilton's phrase regarding the 'spirit of cabal and intrigue' that can overtake the nomination and confirmation process. This spirit of cabal and intrigue of which Hamilton warned is precisely what the Senate Judiciary Committee has reduced itself to, culminating in a Supreme Court nominee's wife being so overcome by the mere defense of her husband as a non—racist that she had to leave the hearing room. This sorry spectacle  unfolded mere months after this same group, joined by a few other Democrats, made themselves the first Senate in the history of the Republic to filibuster circuit court nominees.

Indeed, the Senate can — and does and should — make its own rules. But that leeway is not license to undermine the spirit and the letter of the Constitution and other founding documents, as the Judiciary Committee has done with Judge Alito, Justice Roberts, Justice Thomas, Judge Robert Bork and on and on. The rules of the Senate as now written can and do compel nominees to the federal bench to appear before this august group, and thanks largely to Sen. Kennedy, Sen. Biden and, now, Sen. Schumer and Sen. Durbin, this process has yielded tons of spilled ink, profits for merchants of blooper tapes and DVDs, and some memorable skits on 'Saturday Night Live.'

It wasn't always this way, however.

In the past, the Senate actually followed the Constitution's explicit language despite the existence of a Judiciary Committee. It was not until 1925 that a nominee to the Court appeared before the Committee, and that was under extraordinary circumstances and the result of a compromise President Calvin Coolidge worked out with the committee regarding the nomination of Harlan Fiske Stone to the Court.

Not until 1955 did the Senate require all Court nominees to appear before the vaunted committee. As difficult as it is to imagine, though, Sen. Ted Kennedy was not yet a member of the Senate so hearings were actually conducted with dignity for a time.

It has been well—noted that Justices Breyer and Ginsburg passed through committee and the full body in Republican—majority Senates with overwhelming bipartisansupport. This practice embidoed the spirit of what the Founders had in mind when laying down the phrase 'advice and consent.' Despite some extreme legal theories (age 12 as the age of consent?), the Senate deduced that Justices Breyer and Ginsburg were not cronies of President Clinton getting a big piece of the pie, nor were they necessarily unfit for the Court. Because President Clinton had won election, his choices were confirmed without incident. The people of the nation elected President Clinton as they elected President Bush. The people of the nation sure as hell did not elect Charles Schumer.

The contemptible cabal that is the Democrats of the Senate Judiciary Committee may talk, whine and smear the character of Judge Alito from now until their last days. They may yet attempt a filibuster. However, their transgressions against the Constitutional process and — just as importantly — the spirit and letter of what the Founders of this nation prescribed for executive nominations are finished within their silly committee that was a waste of everyone's time.

Matt May can be reached at matthewtmay@yahoo.com; he is the proprietor of the blog Matt May.

We may thank God that the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito for the United States Supreme Court is finally where it belongs — the floor of the United States Senate. Perhaps James Madison and Alexander Hamilton can now stop spinning in their graves.

Article II, Section II of the United States Constitution makes it plain: The President of the United States will nominate justices to the Supreme Court with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Constitution says the Senate — not a committee thereof — the entire Senate.

That a nomination that was made this past October is just now leaving the Judiciary Committee for a floor vote is a mockery of any sense of fairness and constitutional responsibility. It is also an indictment of all who have undermined the process by delay, most notably Chairman Arlen Specter and the gang of bullies named Leahy, Kennedy, Schumer, Durbin and Feingold who routinely go back on 'promises' made to the gullible Sen. Specter.

Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 76 that the advice and consent role of the entire Senate regarding the judiciary and executive nominees was merely a check on cronyism and nepotism (for example, a President nominating his brother for Attorney General), not a dissertation defense. The Senate's role was to assure that nominees were qualified, and that's about it. Hamilton wrote:

'To what purpose then require the co—operation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity.'

Would that Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin participate in a 'silent operation.'

Perhaps the salient line that can be taken from Federalist No. 76 is Mr. Hamilton's phrase regarding the 'spirit of cabal and intrigue' that can overtake the nomination and confirmation process. This spirit of cabal and intrigue of which Hamilton warned is precisely what the Senate Judiciary Committee has reduced itself to, culminating in a Supreme Court nominee's wife being so overcome by the mere defense of her husband as a non—racist that she had to leave the hearing room. This sorry spectacle  unfolded mere months after this same group, joined by a few other Democrats, made themselves the first Senate in the history of the Republic to filibuster circuit court nominees.

Indeed, the Senate can — and does and should — make its own rules. But that leeway is not license to undermine the spirit and the letter of the Constitution and other founding documents, as the Judiciary Committee has done with Judge Alito, Justice Roberts, Justice Thomas, Judge Robert Bork and on and on. The rules of the Senate as now written can and do compel nominees to the federal bench to appear before this august group, and thanks largely to Sen. Kennedy, Sen. Biden and, now, Sen. Schumer and Sen. Durbin, this process has yielded tons of spilled ink, profits for merchants of blooper tapes and DVDs, and some memorable skits on 'Saturday Night Live.'

It wasn't always this way, however.

In the past, the Senate actually followed the Constitution's explicit language despite the existence of a Judiciary Committee. It was not until 1925 that a nominee to the Court appeared before the Committee, and that was under extraordinary circumstances and the result of a compromise President Calvin Coolidge worked out with the committee regarding the nomination of Harlan Fiske Stone to the Court.

Not until 1955 did the Senate require all Court nominees to appear before the vaunted committee. As difficult as it is to imagine, though, Sen. Ted Kennedy was not yet a member of the Senate so hearings were actually conducted with dignity for a time.

It has been well—noted that Justices Breyer and Ginsburg passed through committee and the full body in Republican—majority Senates with overwhelming bipartisansupport. This practice embidoed the spirit of what the Founders had in mind when laying down the phrase 'advice and consent.' Despite some extreme legal theories (age 12 as the age of consent?), the Senate deduced that Justices Breyer and Ginsburg were not cronies of President Clinton getting a big piece of the pie, nor were they necessarily unfit for the Court. Because President Clinton had won election, his choices were confirmed without incident. The people of the nation elected President Clinton as they elected President Bush. The people of the nation sure as hell did not elect Charles Schumer.

The contemptible cabal that is the Democrats of the Senate Judiciary Committee may talk, whine and smear the character of Judge Alito from now until their last days. They may yet attempt a filibuster. However, their transgressions against the Constitutional process and — just as importantly — the spirit and letter of what the Founders of this nation prescribed for executive nominations are finished within their silly committee that was a waste of everyone's time.

Matt May can be reached at matthewtmay@yahoo.com; he is the proprietor of the blog Matt May.