Monday, March 07, 2005

The filibuster

Federalist Society member Jenn Carter today issued an impassionate plea to Senator Frist to change the filibuster rules.

I understand that there are strong arguments both for and against the filibuster, whether one looks at the constitutional text or institutional practice. I also understand that this issue is the ultimate inkblot: your stance on the issue is probably determined by whether your favorite party has been victimized by the filibuster or is using the filibuster to great effect to stall the efforts of your least favorite party to "stack the judiciary." Today, Democrats love the filibuster while Republicans hate it. In the 1990s, it was the opposite, though Republicans didn't need the filibuster then because they controlled the Senate and simply refused to hold votes for President Clinton's nominees.

So I ask Ms. Carter: would you still oppose the filibuster if Democrats had the White House and a Senate majority (but not a filibuster-proof one)?

That one might be too easy, since it is probably costless to say yes since that scenario will probably never come to pass again in our lifetimes.

So how about this one: are you willing to condemn the Republican efforts in the 1990s to block President Clinton's judicial nominees? Remember that the reason that President Bush had so many vacancies to fill was because Republicans held open the vacancies for him. Also consider that the hold is even less accountable than the filibuster because often the identity of the senator placing the hold is secret.

If your answer is yes, that you're willing to condemn the Republican efforts in the 1990s, and that your condemndation of that effort is just as strong as your opposition to the Democratic filibuster today and that when you condemn one you will also condemn the other, then I'm impressed: you have established yourself as a principled conservative!

2 Comments:

Blogger jenn said...

Thanks for your thoughtful question. I hope my reply is as principled as I would like it to be.

3/07/2005 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger bum said...

i like the filibuster but i have only seen it used correctly once, and that was in a movie (mr. smith goes to washington). in today's culture, i think the filibuster can either be seen as a waste of time or a productive tool when you look at it from a certain perspective.

lets face it, we have no more gray area in government these days; its either you support it or you don't. the art of comprimise has been lost on many officials. so i can understand people who support the filibuster as a stall tactic to get more people over to their side (because for some reason a comprimised can't be reached). but at the same time, i can understand the filibuster being a waste of time because with the parties so partisan there is rarely room for changing your mind without you being labelled a traitor to your party (and somehow to the people you represent...what a joke). so why filibuster when in the end they probably won't change their mind anyway and nothing gets accomplished on that particular issue (at minimum, you could vote, lose but at least have it on record that you were against the bill). is it important to have something accomplished or not - i don't know. i will leave that question for you smart people to answer.

random comments:
i find it funny that a woman (jenn is a woman's name right) is calling for limits on filibustering. women are notorious for taking too long to get dressed and dragging on conversations/arguments/etc out forever. if anything i would have expected her to demand for filibusters on every issue possible.

anyway, let me just come down definitively on one side. i am for filibusters only because i hope offiicals despise it for what it is and think maybe, if we open up dialog between each other, there might be a chance to recreate that gray area (called comprimise) that is missing in government today but should be there.

3/07/2005 04:37:00 PM  

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