Thursday, April 07, 2005

Democrat Hypocrisy on Filibusters

Hat Tip to Matt at Blogs for Bush for pointing me to this post by Patrick Ruffini Over the weekend, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell unceremoniously inserted himself into the debate over judicial nominations, and his stance against the limiting filibusters were greeted uncritically in mainstream media.

In this weekend's coverage, this is how Mitchell characterized his time as Senate Majority Leader vis a vis the filibuster:

Mitchell said: “Our system of checks and balances is in place for a very good reason. It works. It protects all Americans.”

“During the six years that I served as Senate majority leader, Republicans often used filibusters to achieve their objectives,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t always agree with the results, but I accepted them and we were able to work together on many important issues.
But here's Mitchell on December 2, 1994, speaking to CNN's Bob Franken, reflecting on his tenure in his final days as Majority Leader:
The Senate is unique among legislative institutions in the world, in part because of two rules - one, the unlimited right of debate, which can become a filibuster, and the unrestricted right of amendment.

I think we should keep them, but we should limit the opportunities for their use much more than is now the case. To give you an example - not just an example - to cite some facts to illustrate the need for this, in the entire 19th Century, there were only 16 filibusters, one every six and a half years. In most of this century, they occurred less than once a year. In this Congress just concluded, there were 72 times that we had to file motions to end filibusters.
Note: he does not say Republicans blocked 72 measures, he just said that there were 72 times cloture was invoked to limit discussion, and thereby overcome a possible fillibuster. Also the Republicans NEVER used the fillibuster to block Judicial appointments.
But I think the appropriate course is to say that we retain those provisions which make the Senate the unique institution it is, but we reform them in a way that doesn't lend itself to abuse of those procedures, as occurred in this past Congress.
If the Dems are able to intimidate the Republicans not to use the so-called "Nuclear Option" to prevent use of a fillibuser to block Judicial Appointments, do you think there is ANY chance that if the situation is reversed, and if a Democratic President finds a Democratic Senate can't approve his Judicial Appointments because Republicans are blocking them with a fillibuster that they won't invoke the Nuclear Option? I suspect they will even use it to block the use of the fillibuster on legislation they want passed, something the Republicans have never suggested be done.

1 comment:

Don Singleton said...

A question for you my friend. Do you understand the role of the filibuster?

As Wikipedia describes it, it is a process, typically an extremely long speech, that is used primarily to stall the legislative process and thus derail a particular piece of legislation, rather than to make a particular point in the content of the diversion per se. The term first came into use in the United States Senate, where senate rules permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish and on any topic they choose. The term comes from the early 19th century Spanish and Portuguese pirates, "filibusteros", who held ships hostage for ransom.. It is a process that had never been used to block an up or down vote on nominations until the Dems decided to abuse it to block George W. Bush's nominations.

Do you fully comprehend the idea behind checks and balances and the separation of power between the executive, judicial and legislative branches and how it is integral to the existence of democracy in America?

Yes, and I do not object to the use of the filibuster to prolong discussion on legislation, but even then I believe they should require the objector to actually speak until he drops, rather than just letting him say I am going to filibuster it, and then moving immediately to a cloture vote

Take a high school politics course they’ll explain in brief and simple terms how the government works and how these stop the erosion of democracy. Most cities have adult learning centers which offer a variety of course in American history and politics which could enlighten you on working of the government.

I took American History AND Civics when I was in High School (many, many, many years ago)