From an interview with Tony Snow:
TONY SNOW, HOST: There’s much twitch and trembling and rage among
Democrats on Capitol Hill, today. President Bush has nominated for the
United States Supreme Court Samuel Alito, the judge on the 3rd U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals.
Senator Patrick Leahy opening his remarks by saying, “This is a
needlessly provocative nomination. Instead of uniting the country
through his choice, the president has chosen to reward one faction of
his party at the risk of dividing the country.” Joining me now to talk
about that and much more, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
Senator Frist, first, what do you make of the argument by Senators
Leahy and Schumer and Reid and others that this is a divisive nomination?
SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Tony, this fellow,
Judge Alito — and I’ve been with him all morning. I’ve been with his
family, and he just left here a few minutes ago. He’s got a proven
record. He’s a proven nominee that absolutely meets the highest
standards of excellence in the United States of America.
I think the political posturing from the other side is absurd. I
think it is disrespectful of the nominee, who wants America — and my
colleagues, more importantly the latter. But once America sees who he
his, they’re going to stand back and say, “He is smart, he’s
intelligent, a man of integrity. A powerhouse, a powerhouse in the
legal profession.” So I look up on all these comments from my
colleagues as premature and political posturing. And, you know, if they
continue it along the way, I think they’re going to pay a price?
SNOW: How so?
FRIST: Well, first of all — and I said this to the judge, and I
said it to my colleagues. We have got to work together as a Senate to
give this qualified nominee a dignified hearing and a fair up-or-down
vote. If they want to throw the word “filibuster” around before, they
have had hearings before, they have had the opportunity to go back and
look at his records.
And if they are going to prejudge the outcome, it’s going to be a
fight. And we are already for it. Listen, I hope there’s no
filibuster. I stood on principle all along on the other hand, in spite
of the Gang of 14, in spite of deals being cut, on that principle that
these nominees deserve an up-or-down vote. And I haven’t cut deals in
Obstructing judicial nominees should be a thing of the past. If the
Democrats want to obstruct a nominee and not give us our constitutional
right of advice and consent, an up-or-down vote, we’ll take it to the
mat. If a filibuster comes back, I’m not going to hesitate to employ
the constitutional option to get an up-or-down vote.
SNOW: In other words, you will say to Democrats, “OK, we’ve been
playing Mr. Nice Guy, but we’re going to go ahead and vote on something
that says, for the purposes of voting in the United States Senate, the
Constitution requires only a majority vote. And therefore, filibusters
will henceforth not be in order when it comes to judicial nominees for
the federal bench by the president.
FRIST: That is correct, because the tyranny of the minority should
not offend and take advantage of a system that clearly, clearly lays out
in the Constitution advice and consent, meaning an up-or-down, fair,
dignified up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate.
SNOW: Do you believe you have the votes to pass the constitutional
FRIST: Yes, yes. You know, and why do I say that so quickly? It’s
because this is a proven nominee. He meets the highest standards of
excellence in this country. And I have enough respect in this body, the
United States Senate, the upper legislative body of the greatest country
in the world, to act accordingly. And that is vote them up, vote them
down. You can decide how you want to, but give this proven nominee with
those highest standards of excellence a vote.