Obstructing Nominees:

For those who have forgotten that Republicans are just as capable of obstructing Presidential nominees as Democrats, consider the current "controversy" over the confirmation of Andrew von Eschenbach as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. As the WSJ editorial page noted today (link for subscribers), two GOP Senators -- South Carolina's Jim DeMint and Louisiana's David Vitter -- have threatened to block von Eschenbach's confirmation unless they get their way on their pet issues, withdrawing RU-486 from the market and drug reimportation, respectively. According to the Journal: "This is an abuse of their 'advice and consent' powers under the Constitution and a danger to the health of Americans, who need a confirmed FDA Commissioner with full authority to manage that bureaucracy." That may be a bit hyperbolic, but the overall sentiment is correct: Von Eschenbach deserves a vote.

fishbane (mail):
9.22.2006 11:28pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I think Fishbane's looking for a chorus of "I agree!" out of us. Silence is probably agreement in most cases. You won't get people to defend the content of the post until someone attacks it, which hasn't happened.
9.23.2006 12:10am
fishbane (mail):
I think Mr. Chapman is incorrect about my motives. I was using humor to make a more subtle point, in the lowest entropy delivery I could think of.
9.23.2006 12:22am
Justin (mail):
I think Fishbane's point is that the "all nominees deserve an up or down vote" is such a lame excuse of an argument that wasn't true for Republicans during Clinton's era and isn't true, and other than Adler nobody cares about the issue when the real issue (getting people they agree with in positions of power, as opposed to some greater constitutional theory) isn't at stake.
9.23.2006 1:01am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Exactly. That's what I thought Fishbane's point was as well. Do you also assume that all those non-commenters out there are seething with disagreement with Mr. Adler's post, but just can't find a way to voice their objections against such a well-made argument? Since when has THAT stopped anyone on a blog?

You're both wrong to assume that just because people aren't rushing to post kos-like "Hell yeah!" comments with no other substance it means they do not agree with the argument of the post.
9.23.2006 8:22am
Oren Elrad (mail):
It's a real pity the founders didn't codify the percentage of senators required for consent in the text of the constitution.
9.23.2006 10:23am
The Dems in the past have obstructed votes because they are trying stop conservatives from getting on the bench, etc. not because they want a road project in their state.
9.23.2006 10:33am
Oren Elrad (mail):
As opposed to the GOP that are trying to stop murderers from getting on the FDA?

*No, I don't believe that RU486 is murder but I will acknowledge that some people do, much in the same way I acknowledge that people beleie their wives are beautiful and their children geniuses. (apologies to Mencken)
9.23.2006 10:49am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Oh, and btw, the President has reached a compromise that allows the CIA to continue using KGB torture tactics on prisoners.

Perhaps there's a libertarian-leaning law blog covering this issue, somewhere.
9.23.2006 12:44pm
Jeremy T:
Look, this is all just ridiculously stupid.

I want my senators (and DeMint is one of them, the better one) to do everything possible within the rules and practices of the Senate to get things done that I want done. I want RU-486 off the shelves, and I'm glad Jim DeMint is doing everything he can to accomplish that.

That is not to say I believe the Senate rules and practices that ALLOW a one-Senator hold are a good idea. I don't believe they are. But as long as the rules and practices allow it, I want senators I agree with to use those rules and practices to advance the agenda in my direction.

Don't complain about DeMint, complain about the dysfunctional body that is the Senate of the United States.
9.23.2006 2:10pm
jvarisco (www):
So we have Dems blocking him if he won't put Plan B on the shelves, and Repubs if he will? Poor guy.
9.23.2006 2:13pm
Oren Elrad (mail):
JT - I assume you haven't indulged, then, in condemning the dems for obstructing W's court picks?

Or is it OK to use 'parlimentary' tricks when it furthers your agenda but it's unsporting when the opposition uses them?

Is it too much to ask conservatives to at least be consistent?
9.23.2006 2:20pm
Oren Elrad (mail):
Also, I should hasten to add, that whether or not a drug is approved or not (and what conditions are placed on its sale) are purely scientific questions that ought to be handled by FDA staff instead of political appointees.

At any rate, RU486 is easily available from your local drug dealer (and costs less than a gram of coke) so fighting over whether it gets into Walgreens is somewhat moot. Once again, the black market is light-years ahead of the legitimate one.
9.23.2006 2:28pm
plunge (mail):
Apparently filibustering isn't evil anymore again, because Frist just got through threatening one.
9.23.2006 2:54pm
Learned Limb (www):
Any no vote on our Leader's nominees is obstruction. Your analysis does not go far enough, Sir. Every nominee must be confirmed; no exceptions, no refusals.

Yours in His Holy Will,
Learned Limb
9.23.2006 3:40pm
jvarisco (www):
"At any rate, RU486 is easily available from your local drug dealer"

I'm not sure how this is in any way relevant. Most of us who don't use drugs have no idea who our "local drug dealer" might be and would have nothing to do with him if we did. But I suppose drug users might find themselves having proportionally more unwanted pregnancies.
9.23.2006 8:02pm
Oren Elrad (mail):
JV, you raise two points and one incorrect assumption.

The relevance is in the relationship between the law and the real world, to wit, their increasing alienation. Pols/lawyers/law profs who are not willing to look at the actual outcomes and behaviors that result from a particular legislative/judicial act simply aren't doing their jobs. They are not honestly assessing the consequences.

I'm not trying to take a jab at purely judicial analysis - only to add that the law itself is not the whole picture. It doesn't inform on how law and society interact and it is a manifestly incomplete set of information by which to make important policy decisions.

Secondly, by far and large most unwanted pregnancies are highschoolers and of those, alcohol is the big risk factor. You can be sure that every kid knows, or could easily get to meet a drug dealer. Even out of school, basic statistics would tell you that most people aren't too many associations away from one (I suppose you need some network-theory assumptions too).

Furthermore, the kind of people affected by abortion-rights decisions are people unlike you or me (or most of the audience in this blog). To put it bluntly, we can afford to fly to California/Canada if the need be. Less fortunate members of society develop their own ways of coping with governmental intrusion.

Black market distribution of RU486 and PlanB is just capitalism at work. There was a need that the government was not allowing to be filled but it got filled anyway. That's not part of the legal theory but it is still important to it.
9.23.2006 10:05pm