Thursday, May 19, 2005

Who's the longer talker?

Because that’s what filibusters are really all about.  Yeah, you’re probably sick and tired of hearing this term tossed about on various and sundry talking heads shows.  I am, and if for no other reason, I hope that the filibuster rule is ended when it comes to judicial nominees.  It really would give some of those folks more to talk about, especially when it comes to more stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with me.  Did you know that about 35 years ago, Senator Byrd of West Virginia filibustered something, can’t remember what, it was before my time don’t you know, and he simply picked up a phone book and began to read names out of it?  Its fascinating stuff really.

Anyway, the media is all up in arms because the Republicans in the Senate are likely going to vote to stop the filibuster.  The problem is that what the talking heads are saying isn’t exactly so.  The Republicans do want to stop the filibuster, but only in the specific case of “giving advice and consent” to the President’s judicial nominees.  It would still be able to be used in every other case, and to be honest, the Republicans would be foolish to eliminate it entirely.  But that’s exactly not what they are doing.

The Democrat side of the opinion is trying to skew the talk to make people believe that the Republicans are taking the whole thing away from them, and that’s simply an outright lie.  The only hope that they have at this point is turning popular opinion from “why the heck should we care” to “hey, that’s not quite right” and to do that, they are appealing to the people that just aren’t paying all that much attention.  Don’t be taken in by the deception.

Senate rules are set down by Senators to guide their day to day activities.  Some decided way back when that the President should have sixty Senators to consent in allowing a judge to take his or her place on the bench.  Its a good rule, no doubt.  The Republicans want to change that rule back to the original (and implied by the Constitution) count of a simple majority of fifty percent plus one.  The only reason to change it is to get their preferred nominees through.  The only reason to not change it is to let the minority rule, and prevent the nominees being placed on the bench.  The Constitution directs the Senate to advise and consent the President’s judicial nominees.  No where is a directive given as to the majority required for the vote.  It does specifically mention that a 2/3 majority is required in matters of impeachment and overriding a veto.  We can imply that because there is no “supermajority” mentioned in the case of advising and consenting of nominees, that the original framers considered a simple majority to be enough.  That’s what the Republicans want to return to. 

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