Korobov: Senate confirmations shouldn’t be automatic


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A human-trafficking bill, while garnering bipartisan support, is jammed in the Senate. The Democrats oppose a provision in the bill (that they admit they initially forgot to read) that would block funding for abortions. The Republicans, on the other hand, refuse to change the bill. The confirmation of Loretta Lynch, the nominee for attorney General, is being blocked in the Senate because of this gridlock.

The situation has incited inflammatory comments on the left. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., attacked the Republicans last week by saying, “Loretta Lynch … is asked to sit in the back of the bus on the Senate calendar.” Lynch is an African-American woman. Considering Durbin had voted against Condoleezza Rice for secretary of State, he’s either a racist by his own standards or shamefully injecting race once again where it doesn’t belong. I suspect the latter.

The general expectation in Washington has become that it is procedure to confirm all presidential nominations. Rudy Giuliani stated that “the confirmation process has been really tremendously distorted … it’s become Republicans torture Democrats, Democrats torture Republicans. Who started it, God knows.” To answer Giuliani’s question, the people who started this were the Founding Fathers of the nation.

James Madison’s Federalist Paper No. 51 is titled “The Structure of the Government Must Furnish the Proper Checks and Balances Between the Different Departments.” In it, Madison writes that government must be formed in a way that gives “to those who administer each department the necessary and constitutional means and personal motives to resist the encroachment of the others.”

These checks and balances are necessary to prevent any branch from becoming too powerful. As Madison describes it, “ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”

These fundamental ideas of our government made their way into the Constitution. Article II Section 2 [2] of the Constitution states that the president “… with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Officers of the United States.”  Not only was the Senate to be consulted in this process, but until very recently, 60 percent of the vote was required to confirm a presidential nomination.

The idea was that the nominees must be so suited for the position that the minority party will still find some people to vote for them.

Loretta Lynch does not satisfy any of the Senate majority’s priorities for attorney general. She continues to support the president’s executive action on illegal immigration, an act which has already been struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge. When asked whether a U.S. citizen of an illegal immigrant has “more right to a job” in the United States, she responded that both have equal rights. These are not the stances of a competent top law-enforcement officer.

It is because of these reasons, not race, that John McCain said, “No Republican should vote for Loretta Lynch.” The Republicans need to stop confirming presidential nominations as a matter of courtesy. It is their job to hold these individuals to certain standards and force the president to compromise as he seeks possible contenders. Otherwise, their actions represent a negligent dereliction of duty.

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