Brownback’s Fickle Romance with Immigration Reform

The deeply flawed immigration reform bill that President Bush has been pushing crashed and burned in the Senate yesterday, falling 14 votes shy of cloture — in other words, not only couldn’t supporters garner the 60 votes necessary to cut off debate, they couldn’t even hold a simple majority together. Once it became clear that cloture wouldn’t pass, wavering Senators broke against the bill.

The wobbliest of the waverers was Sam Brownback, who voted for cloture but changed his vote after the 40 nays necessary to kill the motion had been cast. Brownback claims that this was his plan all along: “I wanted to signal that I am supportive of comprehensive immigration reform, but that now is not the time and this is not the bill.” That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense; if Brownback really opposed the bill, wouldn’t he have voted against it when his vote actually mattered? Next time Brownback wishes to express a nuanced reason for a vote, he might try a press release.

The last Supreme Court decisions of October Term 2006 were handed down yesterday. During this term there were 23 5-4 decisions, plus one 5-3 decision that most likely would have been 5-4 if Clarence Thomas had not recused himself (he did so because it involved the bank that his son works for). The four conservatives — Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, and Thomas — were in the majority in 13 of those 24 cases. The four liberals — Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souther, and John Paul Stevens — were in the majority in 6 of them. The remaining 5 cases generated ideologically heterodox coalitions. But in all 24 of these cases, Anthony Kennedy was in the majority.

It’s Justice Kennedy’s world; we’re just living in it.

Good news for free speech fans: Yesterday Rep. Mike Pence successfully introduced an amendment to an appropriations bill that bans the FCC from reviving the Fairness Doctrine in 2008. The amendment passed 309-115. Senators John Kerry and Dick Durbin endorsed the Fairness Doctrine this week, but for now they’ll have to wait.

Speaking of which, an addendum to last week’s third item, about Senator James Inhofe’s anecdote about Senators Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer discussing a “legislative fix” to reign in talk radio: After Clinton and Boxer denied that the conversation ever happened, Inhofe claimed that it did happen, but it happened three years ago. As Inhofe told the story last week, it took place when he was “going over to vote the other day.” In other words, he lied.

John Tabin is columnist for Brainwash.

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