Sen. Robert Byrd Will Address Rally on Bush Judicial Nominees

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) will be the keynote speaker at a March 16 rally condemning President Bush's "far-right corporate judicial nominees," a liberal advocacy group announced on Monday.

The battle over judicial nominees is reaching critical mass, said's political action committee. The group strongly opposes to a Senate rule change that would allow Republicans to break the logjam over Bush's judicial nominees.

Press reports say Republicans may have enough votes to change Senate rules, and that has Democrats very worried - and threatening more obstruction.

Byrd, as a senior senator and the chamber's reputed historian, has blasted the idea of changing Senate rules for the sake of judicial appoints. But as previously reported, Byrd - in years past - has said the majority party has the right to make Senate rules.

Byrd -- in remarks on Jan. 15, 1979 -- said, "This Congress is not obliged to be bound by the dead hand of the past."

Byrd noted that the first Senate, meeting in 1789, approved 19 rules by a majority vote and that those rules "have been changed from time to time." Byrd said Members of the Senate in 1789 "did not for one moment think, or believe, or pretend, that all succeeding Senates would be bound by that Senate."

According to staffers in Sen. John Cornyn's office, Sen. Byrd "led the charge to establish new Senate precedents in 1977, 1979, 1980, and 1987 -- including a number of precedents that were designed specifically to stop filibusters..."

Article I, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution states that "[e]ach House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings."

Press reports on Tuesday said even some Republicans - Sen. Mitch McConnell, for one - are worried about changing Senate rules when there is no public outcry to do so.

But Wednesday's rally is seen as an outcry by Democrats: "We've got to show Democratic and Republican senators that this is a grassroots issue," MoveOn PAC said in a press release.

"That's why we're holding a big rally this Wednesday, March 16th, and that's why we want you to come. Our keynote speaker will be Senator Robert Byrd, whose outspoken opposition to the Iraq war inspired many of us and who will be one of the main voices in this fight to protect the courts. The national press will be watching, and together we can show them that real people are ready to fight hard for fair judges-that we're not going to let it slip through as an insider issue."

MoveOn PAC's "Rally for Fair Judges" will take place on Wednesday in a Washington hotel near Capitol Hill.

See Earlier Stories:
Republican Corrects the Record on Judicial Nominees (16 Feb. 2005)
Same Old Story on Judicial Nominees -- for Now (2 March 2005)

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