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Gibson Makes Nuclear Option Top Ten

Reported by Judy - May 18, 2005

Leave it to Fox News' John Gibson today (May 18) to fall for the Number One lie that Republicans are peddling about the filibuster of judicial nominees.

On The Big Story, Gibson claimed that Democrats are "breaking new ground" in filibustering President Bush's appellate court nominees. That's Number One on a list of Filibuster Falsehoods compiled by Media Matters for America. Not only did Republicans filibuster LBJ's high court pick Abe Fortas in 1968, they also tried to filibuster two Clinton judicial nominees in 2000, requiring Democrats to invoke the cloture rule to cut off debate.

Gibson also let Fox News Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano insert the No. 3 falsehood on the list (that Democrats have blocked more judicial nominees than Republicans) into his interview. Napolitano said that the reason federal courts are so backed up is because of Democratic blocking of Bush judges. "It takes too long to get decisions out of the courts, and the Democrats should have to answer for that," Napolitano said. Democrats have only blocked ten Bush judicial nominees; Republicans blocked 60 under Clinton. Furthermore, Bush has been slow to nominate judges for federal slots, putting up nominees for less than one-third of the vacancies.

Gibson's show also worked in another falsehood on the list, (No. 7) that the Republicans' nuclear option really is required by the constitution. Mike Emmanuel, reporting from Washington, D.C., called Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's plan to end filibusters for judicial nominees "the constitutional option." And Gibson's guest, former Republican National Chair James Gilmore, also was allowed to say, without challenge, that because the constitution requires the Senate to advise and consent on judicial nominees, the body needs to vote on each nominee.

There is no such requirement in the constitution.

Emmanuel also inserted a falsehood not on the list -- that if Republicans use the nuclear option, Democrats will respond by shutting down the Senate. That's not what Democrats plan to do. Instead, they plan to call up bills of their own that Republicans don't like and force them to vote on them, bills like granting pay raises to the troops in Iraq.

Of course, if Republicans don't want to vote on the bills, they can always delay a vote by filibustering them.

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