While all eyes were elsewhere -- on Michael Hayden testifying at his confirmation hearing, on George W. Bush wandering around the border, on Patrick Fitzgerald, wherever he is -- the Senate Judiciary Committee met in a small, restricted-access room inside the Capitol today to take up a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage.
The members of the committee voted 10-8 to send the amendment to the Senate floor, but not before some verbal fisticuffs between Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold and Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter.
Feingold complained that the hearing was being held out of public view and said he didn't want to be part of the quorum needed to proceed. Specter responded by saying, "I don't need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I ... If you want to leave, good riddance."
Feingold shot back: "I've enjoyed your lecture, too, Mr. Chairman. See ya."
The amendment now moves to the full Senate, where it's unlikely to get the two-thirds vote it needs for passage. That's not the point, of course: Nervous Republicans simply want to force a vote on the issue before November as a way to galvanize support in the midterm elections.