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February 16, 2005

End Filibustering Of Judicial Appointees Now

For many moons the half-vast editorial staff watched the filibuster debate with growing interest. While the outcome was still uncertain we tended to reserve our opinion, nodding sagely and flinging words like 'cloture' and 'supermajority' about with wild abandon. Bloggers love this technique; it has the advantage of making us look as though we're actually paying attention while preserving our options so we can come down on the winning side once things look like getting serious.

But since Bill Frist has set the proverbial cat among the pigeons, generating a predictably asshatted reaction from the perennially entertaining Senate Minority Leader, we find we can no longer contain ourselves. The pleasure of being able to say "I told you so!", we find, is not outweighed by the giddy glee we experience when contemplating the magnificence of our own bloviation.

We begin with Harry Reid, who (we are convinced) was the class clown in a previous life. To our great amusement, the disingenuous Mr. Reid aroused The Wrath Of Beldar with this statement in Monday's NY Times:

"The president is at it again with the extremist judges," said Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat is the minority leader.

Mr. Reid said the Senate had made clear its position on the seven nominees.

"We should not divert attention from other pressing issues facing this nation to redebate the merits of nominees already found too extreme by this chamber," he said.

Beldar's post, as usual, was exemplary. Our only criticism being that his overreliance on nuance sometimes leaves one in doubt as to his exact feelings on the matter at hand. Case in point, the title of this post: "Most baldfaced lie I've read today" was perhaps over-subtle? To be fair, he did elucidate in the body of the post:

Sen. Harry Reid is a liar.

None of the seven judicial nominees just resubmitted by President Bush have ever received an up-or-down vote on the floor of the United States Senate. None of them were voted down by "this chamber." The only portion of the Senate to "[make] clear its position on these seven judicial nominees" were the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee — a tiny minority of the minority party — whose abuse of procedural rules has permitted them to deny these nominees the floor vote contemplated by the Constitution.

I don't know what percentage of the voting public genuinely understands the Senate's advice and consent role with respect to judicial nominees in general. But I'm quite sure that only a tiny fraction of the electorate understands that the total number of senators who have successfully colluded to deny an up-or-down vote to President Bush's nominees could fit comfortably in an average-sized minivan, and would leave the gap between second and third bases empty if they tried to field a baseball team.

Now is perhaps the time to admit that we never favored the use of the filibuster.

We are of the opinion that we pay Senators a salary for one reason and one reason only: to represent us in Washington. And while they are in residence, it perhaps not too much to ask that they perform their duties as set forth in the Constitution? One of these duties being to confirm Presidential appointees to the federal bench in a timely manner, by a simple majority vote.

That is what the Constitution says. It says nothing about requiring supermajorities, or allowing a tiny subcommittee to bring the confirmation process to a standstill. It says nothing about taking my federal tax dollars and wasting them on an unproductive process that denies a straight vote to nominees who would pass muster if allowed a vote in open session. The filibuster is nothing more than a subversion of representative democracy, and every single argument I have heard in its favor amounts to one thing: the end justifies the means.

Not exactly a compelling case, is it?

There has been much talk of the "extreme" nature of the "nuclear" option: one begins to have visions of Hiroshima on Capitol Hill. As tempting as that prospect may sometimes seem, the metaphor is a bit strained. Though some have suggested less drastic alternatives, we believe a more permanent solution is appropriate. Beldar inclines to our view, i.e., that it is the use of the filibuster itself to block judicial nominees that is radical, and not the so-called "nuclear option":

It is true that in historic practice, the Senate — as the "more deliberative" legislative chamber — has functioned as the political saucer to cool the political hot coffee of the House. That tradition has been an institutional check on the passage of controversial legislation. Whether one views that as a good thing or a bad thing oftentimes depends on one's views on the legislation at issue. But even if one believes that maintaining this institutional check is a desirable and important thing, that's not a good argument against the "nuclear option" with respect to the President's judicial nominees. The Constitution doesn't oblige the Senate, either expressly or impliedly, to bring every proposed bill to an up-or-down floor vote. But I believe that the Constitution's intent is that the Senate has an affirmative duty — and until this past term, the Senate's history has recognized that duty — to actually render its "advice and consent" on the President's judicial nominees.

The Democrats who've obstructed the President's judicial nominees have used the filibuster rules to impose, in effect, an extra-constitutional requirement that the President secure the support of 60 senators to even get an up-or-down floor vote on his judicial nominees. That, in my view, is the radical change that threatens the constitutional process — not the proposed "nuclear option."

In practice what this means is simple: if a nominee is opposed by all minority members of Judiciary Committee, that tiny faction can prevent the nominee from ever receiving an up-or-down vote.

This effectively grants a tiny cabal of the minority party veto power over the President's Constitutional power to appoint judges to the bench. But the Constitution clearly states that nominees will be disapproved only by a majority vote of the entire Senate. The Senate thus allows its internal procedural rules to supercede and overrule the Constitution.

And what of the supposed disastrous results of "going nuclear"? Well, for one thing, we'd be stuck with [shudder] representative government again, as the Founding Fathers intended it should operate:

The history of the filibuster itself also bears noting--particularly by those Republicans who are worried about "giving up" a useful tool when they return to the minority. No one was more concerned with checking majority passions than the Founders, but even they never felt the need for a super-majority Senate voting requirement. The filibuster first appeared in the 1830s during the debates over the Bank of the United States and by 1917 had gotten so out of control that the Senate passed its first "cloture" rule limiting debate. It's been modified numerous times since then, and only in recent years has it evolved to where just about anything that passes (save the annual budget) needs 60 votes.

We don't agree, as some of our pro-filibuster friends on the right argue, that the filibuster was instrumental in stopping the New Deal and the Great Society. Those efforts ended as their excesses became clear and political support ebbed. Some argue that the threat of a filibuster saved us from HillaryCare in 1994, but we think that it was dying of its own weight and would never have had even 50 votes. In any event, no one is talking about doing away with the legislative filibuster. The "nuclear option" would stop only filibusters of judicial nominees.

In the nuclear aftermath, as we survey the twisted wreckage of Congressional gridlock we may be forced to confront the distressful prospect of Senators actually forced to do their jobs.

And isn't this the strongest argument, in the end, for ending the filibuster? We, for one, are just dying to learn what some of our elected representatives really think about the issues of the day.

Some of them haven't voted for years.

CWCID** for first Beldar link to the always-awesome JW

** obscure cross-blog mockery, double credit

Posted by Cassandra at February 16, 2005 05:35 AM

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Comments

I resemble that!

Posted by: Jack at February 16, 2005 09:10 AM

Actually, as a matter of institutional history, I think that it is surprising that the House and the Senate have not developed even more devices to constrain the power of the President. For example, students of the constitution have long wondered why the House and the Senate did not long ago develop the practice of automatically overriding any presidential veto. Yes, it would require minority legislators to vote in favor of legislation that they had opposed, but it would significantly enhance the power of the Congress at the expense of the executive, which is in the institutional interest of the legislative branch. According to this view, it is surprising that a tradition of "automatic override" did not evolve.

To some degree, the filibuster is a milder version of the "automatic override" idea. It is dysfunctional from the perspective of the executive branch, but it requires the executive branch to take the considerations of a lot of perspectives in to account. This makes change difficult and favors moderation over radicalism, which to my way of thinking is a good thing.

I'm not terribly impressed by the argument that the Founders had this or that intention about the allocation of power among the branches, and that the filibuster is some sort of offensive breach of their legacy. The Constitution itself is the product of political struggle and compromise among people who disagreed strenuously about the correct division of power within the federal government (and fuggetabout their notions of federalism compared to our post Civil War ideas). There is no "intent of the Founders" on most matters. The authors of the Constitution had many different intentions.

Finally, it might be said that the fight over judicial nominations is really a function of the rise of judicial power at the expense of the executive and legislative branches. The last fifty years has seen the rise of judges to a stature and power that no Founder could have imagined. Looked at this way, you could argue that the nomination wars really just amount to attempts by the executive and legislative branches to defend themselves against the rising power of the judiciary. The executive branch does this through the appointment power, and the legislative branch does this through the consent power, and both are seeking to maximize their own institutional power. Your preference, over time, should be a function less of your political views (since parties in power change) than your feelings about legislative vs. executive power.

My own opinion is that the filibuster is an important institutional innovation that should be preserved, but that it should come with a poltical cost. The Senate should take the filibuster back to its bad old days, and require that Senators stand up and actually speak for days on end in order to keep "debate" open. The picture of Teddy Kennedy on C-Span reading the recipe for Long Island Ice Tea into the Congressional Record would limit the application of the filibuster to really important matters.

Posted by: Jack at February 16, 2005 09:39 AM

Oh fine, Jack...

You Reichpublikkkans are all alike.

I suspected you'd try and 'go nuclear' on me with like...facts and stuff before I could commence to mocking your intelligence in an incomprehensible fashion.

Hmmmph....

Posted by: Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Attys At Law at February 16, 2005 09:59 AM

I got nothin' right now - have to work. Prepare for retaliatory strike later :)

Posted by: Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Attys At Law at February 16, 2005 10:00 AM

Filibustering legislation is one thing. Filibustering Presidential Appointments is another. I think it could be unconstitutional.

The Constitution requires only the "advice and consent" of the Senate. It says nothing of requiring a Congressional vote. I for one think the President was given the power to appoint his cabinet and Federal judges and he should not need a vote of the Senate. Inaction is consent. The Senate should be forced to vote "NO" -- not the other way around. And worst of all is NOT VOTING. That should be deemed de facto consent. If the Senate doesn't vote "NO" to an appointment within some reasonable time period, which I think should be no more than 30-60 days, it should stand.

Not voting should especially be deemed consent.

Not voting on legislation means it doesn't pass. But not voting on something the President has the power to do is different. I think filibusters are unconstitutional as to appointments. The Senate has no obligation to vote on random legislation. It does have an obligation to let the President exercise his constitutionally granted powers of appointment -- which is inconsistent with not voting.

FWIW, I said this during Clinton's Presidency when a few of his Judges were killed in committee (which was not a filibuster -- the Dems are the only party to do that, but it did prevent a full Senate vote). Those Judges supposedly didn't have the votes to pass, but the Senate should have been forced to vote and go on the record and say 'no.'

Posted by: KJ at February 16, 2005 12:55 PM

Well, KJ, you obviously prefer executive power over legislative!

I think your reading of the Constitution is a bit novel, for at least three reasons. First, there is also "advice and consent" language for the approval of treaties, only with a specified requirement that two-thirds of the Senators concur. This is a pretty strong indication that "advice and consent" was thought to have involved a vote. Second, in most situations the term "consent" is used to imply an affirmative statement, rather than an omission. Somebody can't, for example, trespass on your property without affirmative consent. Your neighbor can't send you a letter saying "I'm a little squeezed over here, so I thought I would run my driveway a couple of feet over on to your property. Of course, it is your property, so I'll give you a few days to tell me that you're against the idea before I proceed." Well, I suppose he could send you that letter, but it would not be a defense to your trespassing action if he did.

Third, the "recess appointment" provision implies that "consent" requires an affirmative vote. It reads: "The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session." If the drafters did not imagine that "consent" would require a vote, then the last phrase would have read "which shall become permanent at the end of their next Session unless the Senate shall have denied its consent prior thereto." Or something like that.

The filibuster is a parliamentary procedural device designed to enhance the power of the institution of the Senate vs. the House and the Executive Branch. The Executive and the Judiciary have each engaged in analogous institutional building (Marbury v. Madison, which established the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of Constitutional interpretation, being the most compelling example on the part of the Judiciary). It is frustrating for Republicans right now, but we have certainly appreciated it in the past.

Posted by: Jack at February 16, 2005 02:47 PM

Let me say this about that. I don't have time to fully weigh in on this matter.

But having sat on (and presided over) numerous executive boards in my time, I find it endlessly amusing how little respect people have for 'original intent' and procedure.

The fact of the matter is, IT DOES MATTER.

We have rules for a reason.

When you try to run a meeting, it runs more smoothly if you stick to the agenda. We used Robert's Rules of Order (which I instinctively loathe with every fiber of my being and never bothered to learn, relying on someone far more O/C than I to advise me when needed). I paid no more attention to it than absolutely needed, but it's a useful tool.

On most boards there are voting and non-voting members. There is a reason for this. Women being lawless creatures by nature and the state of today's society being essentially anarchistic, the trend seems to be for the non-voting members to suddenly demand all sorts of "rahts"**

Well dammitall, no. You were not elected and so you may not vote.

And no, dammitall to helk, we are not going to suddenly start allowing non-voting members to "approve" Presidentally appointed positions. That is one of the few prerogatives of a crappy volunteer position: the ability to appoint like-minded folks to a few key positions so they will not make your life a Living Helk.

The bylaws of an organization (especially a charitable one) were very likely given a great deal of thought by people who were (what a concept) ACTUALLY PAYING ATTENTION AT THE TIME.

This is a process not likely to be replicated by various Johnny- and Janie-come-latelies who wish to weigh in ponderously without having to go through the laborious process of having a Consitutional Convention (as the Founding Fathers did, or in my case, the Charter Members of the charitible organization in question).

There is no free lunch: those insights were hard-earned and there is a darned good reason people ask the question: "What was the Framers' intent?". They assume (rightly) that careful study and thought went into the process, and that similar amount of study and thought have NOT been devoted to the question at the present time.

One may care, therefore, to look before one throws out the careful product of years of work on an ill-considered whim.

**bonus for obscure movie reference. Winner will receive the coveted stuffed marmoset by parcel post

Posted by: Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, LLP at February 16, 2005 03:13 PM

Jack, I was shooting from the hip -- not from the Constitution. You did a fine job refuting me on my lack of researched con law argument - except for one point. I still don't think that not voting is an option.

I am not speaking on this as a Rep - I think it was wrong to use committees to avoid a vote on Clinton appointments. I also don't think I am favoring executive power over legislative. The power of appointment was given the President -- absent a reason to block it, it was the intent that the President have that power. It shouldn't be interfered with by the political chickensh*t method of not voting the Reps used, or the minority interference method of the filibuster the Dems are using.

Most of the power the executive has came by way of abdication. Congress had a role in foreign policy one time, but it didn't really want it. It just wanted to frustrate Presidents it didn't like, but it didn't want the political fallout of having to actually make decisions. That is why we haven't declared war in 60 years, but we sure have fought/are fighting them.

What I suggest though, about consent through silence, should become legislation, though I concede it is probably not constitutionally required. Legislation requiring a Congressional vote within a certain time frame, and if no vote is taken then the appointment is confirmed, would be a constitutionally valid effort of Congress to flesh out the advice and consent clause. I would support that reform, because I think Congress should do its job or shut up, and I think Presidents, even Clinton, should have the power to make his constitutionally granted appointments unless Congress has the guts and the numbers to vote against him.

When Congress has the guts to share real power, and take the political fallout for it, then it can complain. Until then, a pox on both its houses.

Posted by: KJ at February 16, 2005 03:23 PM

Irrespective of your positions on the merits or demerits of the filibuster technique in general, it is unquestionably unconstitutional in regards to judicial nominees.

The Constitution merely requires advice and consent on this point. The Constitution does NOT require a super-majority for approval of judicial nominees. It is not appropriate for the legislature to impose such a non-constitutional super-majority requirement through mere parliamentary rules.

The Constitution already contains procedures by which it can be amended. If the Dimocrats feel so strongly about this point, then let them propose a Constitutional amendment to require such a super-majority for approval of judicial nominees.

Although the Dimocrats have historically proven time and again that they prefer to act in disregard of the Constitution, and preferably through the diktats of judicial or executive fiat, they have not yet succeeded in converting our constitutional republic into a totalitarian or dictatorial state. As such, they are still bound to follow our laws, including the Constitution. Cry me a river, libs.

Posted by: a former european at February 16, 2005 03:56 PM

Former European: Whether or not it is inappropriate for the Senate to pass rules that create the effect of requiring a "supermajority" to give its consent, I believe that it is constitutional for it to do so. I believe (can't remember the case, and I'm just spewing from memory here) that the Supreme Court, which declared itself the final arbiter of Constitutional interpretation in 1817, has also said that the internal rules and procedures of the houses of Congress are beyond the consideration of the courts -- that is, they raise nonjusticiable political questions. I am fairly sure that if the Senate banded together and agreed that it would allow no floor vote on any matter without a unanimous decision to bring the vote, the Supreme Court would not intervene. The only remedy is at the ballot box.

Posted by: Jack at February 16, 2005 07:32 PM

"...the trend seems to be for the non-voting members to suddenly demand all sorts of "rahts"**

Oh that's from "Gettysburg", when Joshua Chamberlain's brother (Wilt?) was questioning the Confederate POWs (just before he put a corset on one of their heads...Standard Yankee practice when dealing with Secesh).

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 16, 2005 09:15 PM

Oh, very good Mr. Brouhaha :)

Wilt, indeed.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 16, 2005 09:22 PM

Jack: re:

Finally, it might be said that the fight over judicial nominations is really a function of the rise of judicial power at the expense of the executive and legislative branches. The last fifty years has seen the rise of judges to a stature and power that no Founder could have imagined. Looked at this way, you could argue that the nomination wars really just amount to attempts by the executive and legislative branches to defend themselves against the rising power of the judiciary.

(1) Point well taken.

(2) I do NOT think filibustering has any use. If the legislative wishes to exercise its power, let it do so directly, the way it is intended to, through use of the vote, through compromise and building consensus. Not through obfuscation, delay, and obstruction - wasting my tax dollars. This is an abuse of public trust and it is shameful. In any other profession, (law anyone???) it would be viewed as malpractice - taking the client's money while returning nothing of value - not even an up-or-down vote, which is why we sent them to Washington. It is dishonest and inexcusable. Not only do they refuse to do THEIR OWN jobs, they make it impossible for OTHERS to render their opinion as to the fitness of nominees for the bench.

It reminds me of unions standing around doing nothing on purpose, and it disgusts me. And the thousand prevarications that have sprung us to justify this practice aren't much better, IMO.

Wrong is wrong: do your job. Earn your paycheck. Render an honest, up-or-down vote. That's not too much to ask of someone who earns 91,000 a year.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 16, 2005 09:39 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong here--but these ain't even for-real fillibusters in the Senate.Some kind of half-vast "Gentleman's Fillibuster" where they can yield the floor, go piss, go home fer cripe's sake, and return to do it all over again tomorrow???????wtf?


Everett Dirkson must be spinning in his grave....


Greg

Posted by: Greg at February 16, 2005 09:46 PM

I think one can argue legal distinctions forever here, and my point is not a legal one. It is a moral one.

I did not (I think) imply that the filibuster was unconstitutional per se. I think it perverts the way the legislative branch was intended to work - as a representative body - by allowing a tiny minority what is essentially veto power over the Constitutionally-granted power of judicial appointments.

Why on earth was the Executive branch granted this power if we were going to allow a tiny cabal of power-mad legislators from the MINORITY party to overrule it behind closed doors?

How can you argue that this is a GOOD thing?

Is this "representative government"? I don't think so.

How are the voters served by this?

Answer: they aren't.

The only argument I hear being raised in its defense is "Gosh... it's darned useful"

Well gee whiz... to stretch a point to the limit, so is murder at times, but that doesn't make it right. If that's the best anyone can come up with, I ain't buyin'.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 16, 2005 09:50 PM

Well you see Greg, I won't even buy off on the phone book filibuster.

You don't win arguments by reading the fricking phone book.

That's just a damned cheap way to take the hill. Play fair, give it your best shot, and take your licks at the end of the day like big boys and girls. Democracy's a full-contact sport. Grow some cojones.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 16, 2005 09:53 PM

wasn't directed at you, by the way :)

Posted by: Cassandra at February 16, 2005 09:53 PM

Please allow Pile to do some splainin'. It is not the kind of filibuster you are thinking of because the dems have the votes to block cloture. Meaning ending debate and bringing it to a vote requires 60 under senate rules. The traditional filibuster is done by a smaller minority that doesn't have the 40 votes necessasry to block cloture.

It is a senate rule....change it. Honor the constitution. That is more important than senate rules.

Posted by: Pile On® at February 16, 2005 10:10 PM

Jack: I disagree that Congressional parliamentary rules trump the Constitution. That is an asinine proposition. It is one thing to have rules which implement, or at least do not contradict, the Constitution, but quite another to have rules which transgress it.

If, for instance, Southern Democrats somehow took control of Congress and decided to pass rules permitting slavery to exist in the halls of congress to teach "them uppity nigrahs" their place, would this be permissible? This is obviously ridiculous.

If the Courts will not defend the Constitution from Legislative transgressions of it, then the Executive Branch should intervene in the spirit of Andrew Jackson. If I were POTUS, I would state that, given the Legislative refusal to vote on judicial nominees, and further given the Courts' refusal to address the constitutionality of same, the Legislature has abdicated or waived its "advice and consent" resposibilities and the Prez should therefore simply appoint nominees in the interim.

Remember, although rarely utilized, the President also has the duty to interpret the Constitution and defend it, even if the transgressor is the nation's own Legislature.

Posted by: a former european at February 16, 2005 10:24 PM

Not being a lawyer, I can't really comment except to quote the old chestnut about the Constitution being the supreme law of the land from which all other laws flow, and to which all other law defers.

The example used by the bus. law teacher I taught under was that the Constitution was like a bundle of straws - it conferred certain rights upon Americans which could then not be taken away by any agency, public or private. Those agencies might pass laws or make rulings that enlarged those rights, but they had no power to narrow them.

It then seems odd to me that, the Constitution having clearly granted the President the power to appoint federal judges, we now defend the rightness of, not a majority of Congress, but a faceless faction of the minority party to prevent a fair vote, behind closed doors, without accountability to their constituents.

Again, I cannot argue legality, but only layman's logic and morality.

Which in the end ought to be more important and forceful arguments, but seldom are.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 16, 2005 10:37 PM

I never understood what was so nuclear about the option of changing senate rules, now what afe is proposing would definately cause some heads to explode.

Posted by: Pile On® at February 16, 2005 10:38 PM

Come the Revolution, we shall all be changed, Comrade Pile :)

Posted by: Cassandra at February 16, 2005 10:59 PM

Anyway, you'd think with all the hot air around here, I'd be warmer.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 16, 2005 11:00 PM

Put on a sweater.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 16, 2005 11:16 PM

Jack, your comment about political questions...
"the Supreme Court . . . has also said that the internal rules and procedures of the houses of Congress are beyond the consideration of the courts" is I think accurate, but your conclusion, that therefore the rules are constitutional, is not.

The Court's refusal to address certain issues is not an endorsement of the constitutionality of the issue. Even if the Court refused to rule on the Senate's procedure, that procedure could still be unconstitutional. There would be no remedy, but it would be just as unconstitutional. E.g., jurisdiction of the courts is provided by legislation. Congress could pass a law prohibiting jurisdiction to Federal Courts over an issue that prevents the unconstitutional harm from being litigated (e.g., some would argue Lincoln's aboloshment of habeus corpus). The harm might be unconstitutional but the Court's couldn't decide it.

Congresspeople are required to take that little "support the constitution" oath too, Jack. Just b/c most constitutional issues are decided by Courts doesn't take away the duty of the Congressperson to evaluate the issue before voting. These procedural rules are no different, especially because the court's may not get to hear the issue.

Posted by: KJ at February 17, 2005 10:31 AM

All your various fulminations as they may be, there is no winning legal solution to the filibuster. Of that I am highly confident. Assuming that we do, in fact, want to get rid of the filibuster (and be careful what you wish for -- in 1976 the Democrats thought they would be in the majority forever), the path to that end will be political. The question is, how to get there.

To my way of thinking, straight-up abolition of the filibuster is probably not going to fly in the Senate. The press will make it look like the Republicans aren't "playing fair," and that alone will scare enough of the weaker hands to keep an abolition from passing. However, I think that the Republicans might well achieve a return to the "traditional" filibuster, whereby the obstructionists have actually to speak in order to keep debate open. This revision, which would look "traditionalist" instead of "radical," would make the filibuster possible but costly. Non-stop debate would create tons of footage for negative campaign commercials in the next election cycle, all of which might make it more possible to unseat obstructionist Senators. That would pave the way for the best remedy for the improper use of the filibuster, which is defeat at the ballot box.

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2005 12:19 PM

As I said, filibustering on legislation is within each House's own rule making authority. There is no constitutional requirement that legislation be passed. Filibustering the President's appointments to me does not appear to be OK. I don't care if the Dems regain control of the Senate with respect to this issue. The Senate has no right under the constitution to not vote on a Presidential appointment. End of story. I don't care what party is in control on this subject -- the constitution is the constitution and I don't belong to either of those two philosophically bankrupt parties anyhow.

Posted by: KJ at February 17, 2005 02:35 PM

fulminations... fulminations!!! :D

Actually, "be careful what you wish for" doesn't really apply in my case - I think it's deplorable no matter who does it. Right is right and wrong is wrong. As I said before, if the best argument one can summon is "expediency" then I'm not buying.

And why not just create rules which make that kind of grandstanding and abuse of public money/time illegal, Jack?

I am perplexed by the "make them earn it" argument, although I suppose it is based on cynicism/practicality. We're PAYING for them to read the darned phone book - it's on our dime. Don't we have the right to ask them to spend our money wisely? Shouldn't they be accountable to their constituents DIRECTLY?

Your argument seems to be, "let them make all the damned silly rules they want... hopefully the voters will catch them making asses of themselves and hold them accountable on election day...".

(Note to self: what happened to Mr. TigerHawk's cynicism??? Has he been nipping at the firewater again? :)

And maybe they won't, and this travesty will continue as it has for years. Why not simply demand transparency and accountability in public life? Is that so hard to understand?

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 02:49 PM

It is my cynicism that prevents me from expecting anybody to listen to a demand for "transparency and accountability in public life"!

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2005 05:00 PM

I know I'm a Pollyanna...

I just couldn't resist twisting your tail a bit :)

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 05:07 PM

It's not so much that I believe that rules will always be followed.

It's just that when we as a society become so jaded that we no longer make rules as though we believe virtue is worth the candle, what is left?

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 05:08 PM

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