Friday, April 15, 2005

GOP and Judicial Filibuster Rules

CNN and Fox ran articles on GOP efforts to go on the offensive, and counteract liberal ads, in trying to eliminate judicial filibusters. CNN ran an AP article while Fox News ran their own, with contributions from the AP. I did a sentence for sentence comparison and found virtually all of CNN’s AP article in Fox’s article (the exception being just two sentences about Senate rules). Fox added some additional information, both pro and con. The information is listed below. When I first saw that they had run different articles about a very hot political issue, I expected that a lot of bias would show through. However, the information added by Fox seems even-handed. They just provided more information. If you want to see the additional information, read on.

Regarding a flyer for a pro-Republican event sponsored by the Family Research Council, Fox had this (not found in CNN’s article):

Under the flier's heading, "the filibuster against people of faith," it reads: "The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias, and it is now being used against people of faith."

Fox added a significant section about the event and other issues. Here is an excerpt:

"At this moment, there are those who are planning what I consider to be an assault on very base of Constitution," Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said on the Senate floor Friday. "Those who wish to change the rules of the Senate and defy tradition, change rules in the middle of the game and have a full frontal assault on the unique nature of this institution … that, I think, is an abusive power. It goes way too far. [It] ignores the founding fathers, the Constitution, rules of the senate [and] for what? So the president of the United States can have every single judicial nominee approved by the Senate?" …

Durbin also assailed news of the Family Research Council event -- first reported in The New York Times Friday -- portraying Democrats as "people against faith."

He said these filibusters are "not an issue of religion," but of whether the nominees abide by the Constitution. "In 10 cases out of 215, the nominees did not pass that test," Durbin added.

Later, in an informal briefing with reporters, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said he was quite upset that people would suggest his party was against people of faith. "God does not take part in partisan politics," said the Nevada lawmaker. "I do know God cares about poor people, sick people, widows, orphans ... I think those are moral issues."

Reid, a Nevada Democrat and a Mormon, called it "beyond the pale" for Frist to agree to participate in the telecast. Durbin called it "outrageous." Reid said that America is a democracy, "not a theocracy and for now Senator Frist to say that he's going to participate in this event in Kentucky next week is beyond the pale."

Fox then ended with this information that was not in CNN’s article:

Former Clinton White House counsel Jack Quinn told FOX News on Friday that the idea that conservatives would paint Democrats as "people against faith" is "particularly galling."

"I think that in politics, most Americans think that any one political wing trying to capture religion and faith as their own is plain and simply, offensive. What's going on here is a war between the … fundamental institutions of American democracy."

But former Whitewater counsel Robert Bittman said Republicans are doing what they can to live up to their constitutional advise and consent obligations and to get an up-or-down vote on the president's judicial picks,

"What is absolutely clear is that the nominations that are being held up by the Democrats … are absolutely 100 percent qualified to be federal judges," Bittman told FOX News. "It's really discouraging that the Senate is holding up these people and won't even allow a vote."

Links to the articles:,2933,153616,00.html

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