Senatorial Courtesy Or Flimflam?

April 1, 2009 09:00 AM

Senatorial Courtesy, for those who are not familiar with the term, is actually part of the congressional glossary of terms published on line by C-SPAN.

Senatorial Courtesy refers to the practice of consulting home-state senators on a nomination. The Senate rarely confirms presidential appointments if the nominee's own senators disapprove.

The term is not fiction, as I took the trouble to look into it by searching several additional web sites that are known to be credible sources for this sort of political information. It is a term of particular interest to me since the nomination hearings on Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius are scheduled to begin at some point this week. Further, the governor, who rabidly supports abortion, has social and financial ties to America's most infamous abortionist, George Tiller, is also someone who claims she is Catholic. Dubious yes, but a fact nonetheless.

The two United States senators hailing from Kansas are Senator Sam Brownback, a recent convert to Catholicism and pro-life American and Senator Pat Roberts, a Methodist and a pro-life American, though not as outspoken on the tragedy of abortion as Senator Brownback. In fact, the biography of Senator Roberts, published on his web site, tells the reader that: "In 1969, Roberts became Administrative Assistant to First District U.S. Congressman Keith Sebelius. Roberts was elected to Congress in 1980, succeeding Sebelius upon his retirement."

The late Keith Sebelius was Kathleen Sebelius' father-in-law. We take note of this for the record.

Kansas has, according to voting records published by certain pro-life organizations, two pro-life senators who could have joined together because of their convictions regarding the tragedy of the act of abortion, opposed Governor Sebelius and thereby sealed her fate. Sebelius would not have been confirmed, if indeed she is, if the two senators from her state had opposed her nomination and invoked Senatorial Courtesy. We all know, however, that they did not.

Obviously the courteous thing to do, if one can judge by the inaction of these two senators, was not to stand up for principle and do all they could to stop the Sebelius nomination. Rather they rolled over and played dead, played patty cake with the deadly enemy, and accepted with smiles and open arms a woman who places abortion right at the top of her health-care agenda. To my mind this is a travesty that is beyond the pale, but don't wait to hear about it from those who oppose Sebelius' nomination but would never utter a negative word about the two senators in question, well almost nobody. I just did.

This sort of namby-pamby behavior makes me ill. It is the reason why United States senators who describe themselves as pro-life deserve a great deal more scrutiny than they receive from those in the political end of things who think they know what is best for all of us including preborn children. If a man who claims to be pro-life cannot stand up and declare it at a critical time like this, then exactly how pro-life can he really be?

When Terri Schiavo, whose death we commemorated yesterday, took her last breath, Senator Sam Brownback made a profound statement which said in part

With Terri Schiavo, we witnessed the legally sanctioned death by starvation and dehydration of a living human being. It is now time to look beyond the politics of the debate in order to see clearly what is really at issue in this case.

While many in the media have attempted to portray the events leading to Terri's death as politically motivated, it is much more significant than this. Ultimately, one's position on the matter of Terri Schiavo depends on one's view of the human person. …

If a subjective judgment of quality of life is what determines the value of an individual or the protections accorded to that individual, this has enormous implications for every one of us: both for the way we conduct our own lives and for the way we order our society. If we have a fundamental mandate to protect the most vulnerable among us—not just those with social or political influence or those who are regarded as productive—a reordering of our priorities, and our laws, becomes necessary. Terri's struggle becomes apparent for what it is: the forced starvation of a living human being with a diminished quality of life for the sole reason that her continued existence has a quality that is below some subjective standard put forth by a judge. If this can be true for any living person, then God help us all.

I have added bold emphasis on those phrases from Senator Brownback's statement, which should apply to his actions with regard to the Sebelius nomination. If he is to be believed, if he is consistent, then why is there a double standard?

Brownback's statement on the death of Terri Schiavo, eloquent and I am certain, heartfelt at the time four years ago, makes a mockery of Brownback's current lack of action when it comes to Kathleen Sebelius, who is the antithesis of all that Brownback wrote in defense of life and the "infinite worth" of the human being.

Politics aside, there is no defense for the same man who felt such a deep and abiding love for Terri and all she suffered to stop short of doing all within his power to stop the Sebelius nomination.

To my mind, the utilitarian ethic that formed the foundation for Michael Schiavo's decision to end Terri's life was a tragedy. But what is the ethic that undergirds the decision of a Catholic senator to avoid confronting his state's pro-abortion governor and doing so publicly for all to hear? As reported, Senator Brownback "issued a joint statement with fellow Senator Pat Roberts congratulating Sebelius, whom Planned Parenthood once called a "champion" of their agenda, on the occasion of her nomination by President Obama."

When pro-life politicians extend congratulations to an avowed enemy of preborn human persons, there are no words to describe the disgust I feel.  So much for flowery statements and words on paper!

Please let both United States senators from Kansas know exactly how disappointed you are in their latest flimflam.

E-mail Senator Sam Brownback:

E-mail Senator Pat Roberts:

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