Up on the Hill, There Arose Such a Clatter...
Senator Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) party got a bench for Christmas -- a federal one. That's the unfortunate effect of the Left's latest power grab, which yesterday yielded its first prize: a radical appointment to the D.C. Circuit Court. Two months ago, the nomination of Patricia Millett, an anti-Christian, anti-marriage ideologue, was a nonstarter under the chamber's historic 60-vote threshold. That all changed before Thanksgiving when the Left steamrolled the Senate's rules and unleashed the majority on a confirmation system that, until recently, gave both parties a say in the process. Now, in this "post-nuclear" world, the Senate that most Americans complained was moving too slowly is suddenly shifting into high gear to give the President's picks lifetime jobs.
Yesterday, Democrats tested the new system by muscling a highly controversial judge onto a balanced bench -- blowing by the GOP's objections to tip the scales of the second most important court in the country. "They did this for one reason," fumed Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), "to advance an agenda the American people don't want... This vote isn't about any one nominee. It's not about Patricia Millett. It's about an attitude on the Left that says the ends justify the means -- whatever it takes. The American people have given us a divided government. The administration needs to accept it. They need to work with the government the people have given them, not the one they wish they had. They need to stop viewing the rules that govern the rest of us as mere suggestions to follow as they wish..."
Under this nightmarish process, Millett's confirmation is just the beginning of the long procession of radicals to positions of power. Until last month, it would have taken 60 Senators to give Millett a crack at such an important bench. Now that a simple majority makes the decision, Senator Reid is demanding votes on more than 75 nominations -- including the explosive pick of Cornelia Pillard, a judge so outside the mainstream that even members of the President's own party objected.
After being soundly defeated this fall, Pillard's nomination has new life in Reid's confirmation carousel. Described by legal experts as "the most left-wing judge in the history of the Republic," Pillard found her niche in militant feminism. A mother of two, Pillard has written papers demeaning motherhood and accused pro-lifers of turning women into "presumptive breeders." Those ideas bleed into Pillard's extreme pro-abortion views, which suggest that abstinence education is "unconstitutional" and ultrasound technology is somehow manipulating Americans to consider the personhood of the unborn.
Unlike other judicial activists, Pillard is honest about her objective: rewriting the law to fit her personal political agenda. And it may only be a matter of hours before Democrats give her the opportunity to do just that. Barring a Christmas miracle, the Senate is scheduled to hold a revote on Pillard sometime this week. As one senator reminded us, there's only one cure for this kind of tyranny -- and that's an election!
Murray Christmas, America!
When Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) met with his caucus yesterday, it wasn't to exchange Christmas cookies. Instead, the GOP's budget chair had the unenviable job of selling conservatives on a two-year fiscal deal that leaves both parties dissatisfied. Under the tentative plan struck by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ryan, Congress would break through the spending caps set in the sequester and give Washington a $1 trillion discretionary budget. To offset some of the $62 billion in new spending, Ryan and Murray tried to find savings in other areas. Unfortunately, the $85 billion in cuts they identified would take place over the long-term, an unacceptable scenario to most GOP conservatives. President Obama seemed to lean toward the idea, calling it a good compromise.
Mark Levin disagrees. On his radio show yesterday, he took Rep. Ryan to task for the "Mickey Mouse" deal that he believes trades away the spending cap for the promise of savings down the road. But, "elections have consequences," Ryan said, highlighting the tough position Republicans are in. The plan doesn't raise taxes, Ryan argues, it funnels more money into the military's barebones budget, and reduces the deficit. "What happened to the 2011 deal?" Levin countered. "[It] increased the debt limit. The sequester was supposed to be in place [to cap spending]." "This deal actually reduces the deficit," Ryan explained.
"But over 10 years," Levin interrupted. "Ain't gonna happen... [You] can't cut spending and increase spending at the same time [especially when] the spending part comes at the front end." For his part, Ryan was realistic. "I'm not suggesting that this fixes our problems. What I'm suggesting is I like the precedent this sets. The Democrats, in every budget negotiation, have said they want half tax increases, half spending cuts. We're saying all spending [cuts] no tax increases -- and that's the precedent that's being set." How the debate shakes out is anyone's guess -- particularly with the Christmas recess bearing down on members. And while calling it a budget agreement is certainly a stretch, it has the potential to be a budget reality before the Hill adjourns.
Tailored Suits for Dobson, Priests for Life
In the latest chapter over the HHS mandate fight, there's a familiar face: Dr. James Dobson. Dr. Dobson, the man who helped found FRC, will be leading a movement he helped create into another battle -- for religious freedom. The man behind the popular radio show, "Family Talk," is the latest leader to file a federal lawsuit against the President's order that employers pay for contraception and abortifacient drugs, regardless of their convictions. "Our ministry believes in living out the religious beliefs we hold to and talk about on the air," Dr. Dobson said through his attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom. "As Americans, we should all be free to live according to our faith and honor God in our work. The Constitution protects that freedom... But the mandate ignores that and leaves us with a choice no American should have to make: comply and abandon your religious freedom, or resist and be fined for your faith." The lawsuit, Dobson v. Sebelius, was filed with the U.S. District Court for Colorado.
Dr. Dobson will have some company in court, as our friends from Priests for Life have also taken a legal stand against the mandate. Joining dozens of other faith-based organizations, Father Frank Pavone, Dr. Alveda King, and others at the group insist that "It is not up to the government to tell us when our conscience hurts; on the contrary, it's up to us as believers to tell the government." For Priests for Life, their first day in court was this past Monday, as the U.S. District Court in D.C. heard oral arguments. Let's hope that the justices recognize what 59% of Americans already do: that the mandate is an oppressive violation of our first freedoms!
** Dishonesty is at the root of a lot of Americans' frustrations over the health care law. Read FRC's Rob Schwarzwalder's interesting take on the moral fallout in his new Townhall.com piece, "Lying, ObamaCare, and Integrity."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.