What others are saying

January 03, 2007

Not in the running for Father of the Year: 25-year-old Willie Pickett Jr., an adventurous driver from Evansville, was charged with drunken driving, criminal recklessness and neglect of a dependent after police noticed him changing seats with a passenger in the front seat of his car while it was going 60 miles an hour. Mr. Pickett is the father of a child, who happened to be sitting in the back seat at the time. The passenger, Daryl Wilson, 20, was charged with criminal recklessness. The toddler's mother, 24-year-old Krista Hirsch, who was also in the back seat, was charged with neglect. What a tough road these clowns are creating for that child.

- The News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Ind.)

Sen. Sam Brownback, one of Congress' conservative culture warriors, opposes one of President Bush's judicial nominees because she dared to attend a same-sex commitment ceremony in 2002. Whether they want to enable the senator's bigotry is a question for Kansans and, eventually perhaps, the rest of us (Mr. Brownback is a possible 2008 presidential candidate). But the Senate can and should take action to prevent a single senator from imposing his prejudices on the entire body.

A senator can frustrate the will of the Senate by using a "hold," which allows any senator to block a vote on a nominee or piece of legislation.

The practice is indefensible even when asserted on behalf of a worthy cause. ... The hold undermines the principle of majority rule even more than its procedural kissing cousin, the filibuster.

Mr. Brownback's hold on Michigan Appeals Court Judge Janet Neff, who was nominated for a federal district judgeship, was an especially obnoxious use of the procedure. Mr. Brownback is fixated on the fact that Judge Neff attended and spoke at a ceremony in 2002 at which the daughter of the judge's next-door neighbor exchanged (legally nonbinding) vows with another woman.

Even after saying that he will drop the hold that has stalled action on Judge Neff's confirmation, Mr. Brownback still wants to question her, absurdly enough, about the ceremony to test his concern that she wouldn't be impartial in cases involving the legality of same-sex marriage. ...

Senate rules should be amended to abolish all holds, secret and open, so that no senator can usurp the right of the entire body to judge a nominee or a piece of legislation. The hold is defended as a form of "senatorial courtesy," but it's insulting to the people senators represent.

- Los Angeles Times

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