Republicans are predictably unhappy about the success of the “nuclear option,” and there’s no shortage of quotes available about “power grabs.” But perhaps my favorite reaction came from Sen. David Vitter (R-La.).
“This isn’t just a shame for the Senate; it’s scary and dictatorial for our country.”
Well, that’s certainly one way to look at this. But let’s instead consider what the process will look like going forward.
1. The president (Obama and his successors) will nominate someone to fill a judicial vacancy.
2. The nominee will be subjected to a confirmation hearing in the Judiciary Committee, who will scrutinize his or her record and qualifications.
3. If a majority of the committee approves, the nominee will be sent to the Senate floor, where his or her record and qualifications can be debated and scrutinized further, with members having an opportunity to make the case to theier colleagues for or against the nomination.
4. The Senate will then vote on his or her nomination. If a majority of the Senate approves, he or she will join the federal bench. If a majority disapproves, the nomination dies.
This, in the mind of David Vitter, is “scary and dictatorial.” He didn’t seem to be kidding.
For the record, note that the process I’ve described isn’t just majority-rule, it’s the way the Senate worked for about 200 years, largely without incident.
One doesn’t have to like the process or today’s tactics, but to see the process as “scary and dictatorial” is deeply foolish, even for Vitter.