Saturday, April 23, 2005

Filibuster showdown

Republicans are rapidly setting the stage for a final showdown on the filibuster. After having talked about ending the filibuster for some two years now, they may schedule a vote as soon as next week. Because Republicans have talked about this issue for so long without acting, the timing suggests that they either want to distract from scandals surrounding Tom DeLay or their failure to make headway on the rest of their policy agenda, or both. I would bet my money that if and when this vote takes place, we will have seen the last of the filibuster in judicial confirmation process because Republican leaders would not dare bring this to a vote only to suffer embarrassing defeat.

Democrats can howl all they want about the need for a more bipartisan process, and they're probably right. But as I've blogged about before here and here, the Senate confirmation process is about pure politics and riven with hypocrisy. If Democrats and Republicans switched roles, Democrats would be doing what the Republicans are doing now. They just never had the control of the Senate necessary to do it under Clinton.

However, in the final analysis, I don't think that ending the filibuster now will make all that much of a difference. President Bush already gets through a vast majority of his judicial nominees and the few that the Democrats have held up do not strike me as particularly different from the ones that have gotten through. And over the long run, this will come back to bite the Republicans because Democrats one day again control both the White House and the Senate, even if that doesn't happen again in our lifetimes. The filibuster, once gone, won't come back because what majority would want to restrain itself?


Blogger bum said...

mr. HARVARD man, give me a brief history of the filibuster. was it law or is it from the constitution?

4/25/2005 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger Ha ha hit him again said...

bum, I do believe it is from the rules of the Senate. Democrats are caving faster than Cheney can ascend the dias to cast the tiebreaking vote, however.

4/25/2005 09:31:00 PM  

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