Courtesy Down and Dirty: A Love Affair with Congress

Today it came to my attention just how much back scratching (otherwise termed something much dirtier) goes on between the President and Congress.

Take, for example, presidential appointment of federal justices. Not only do presidents get to stack the courts in your little home-state in their party’s favor, but they have something called a “senatorial courtesy.” In my understanding this is basically a game of Mother-May-I before the official nomination is made. It goes something like this.

Three Business Men

President X wants to appoint Judge Y from state Q for chief justice of the Supreme Court. President X performs a “senatorial courtesy” by asking the permission – no, really, don’t laugh – of a senator from state Q. Let’s call him Senator M, just to make this really fun and confusing. If Senator M from Judge Y’s state says, “nope, that dude’s one bad apple,” then President X will almost surely not continue with the nomination. You follow me so far?

Here’s the thing. President X already knows what Senator M is thinking. It’s like some weird combination of a Jedi use of the force, having political analysts at his disposal than fleas on a dog, and party lines. (I’m sure I’ll get to this later… for other idiots or recent idiots, party lines basically beg the question: Are you Democrat or Republican? We’re all like irrational baseball fans when it comes to political parties, and somehow the psychological attachment to either the color red or blue wins out over policy proposals of the individual. I didn’t make the rules.)

Back to senatorial courtesy. The president already basically knows what Senator M is going to say. There are only two choices, after all, and he’s got some savvy people working for him in the White House who are borderline crystal ball readers about these sorts of things.

So if President X already knows how Senator M is going to answer…. WHY BOTHER ASKING? And whyohwhy give it such a silly name?

I posit that this is another infuriating and entertaining fuddydism (technical term) that the U.S. government has allowed to persist merely to infuriate recent inductees into the realm of political learning, such as myself. What else could it be for? Other than perhaps a cool phrase to work into your everyday vernacular.

“Aw man, whadja do that for? You can’t ask the dude how he’s gonna feel when you pants him!”

“Hey, you know, I was just giving the brother a little senatorial courtesy…”


One response to “Courtesy Down and Dirty: A Love Affair with Congress

  1. This is a neat article. Senatorial courtesy seems to be still in effect and this is evidenced in the party line appointments. Keep up the articles.

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