Friday, May 06, 2005

Frist filibuster

The student center at Princeton is called Frist Campus Center in honor of Senator Frist's family who donated the money to build it. Starting on April 26, students have launched a "Frist filibuster" (live blog here) to protest Republican plans to eliminate filibuster when it comes to judicial nominations. I've followed it from the first, but hadn't thought that it would amount to any more than your standard campus protest. But it has garned national coverage and has proven a great embarassment for the senator.

One thing that drives me crazy about the filibuster talk is about how both sides claim that their side is more majoritarian than the other. Republicans hold a 55-45 edge in the Senate and claim that it is only fair that the majority prevail. Democrats observe that despite having 10 fewer seats, Democratic senators actually represent about 30 million more Americans than Republican senators do, which I was surprised to learn.

But both sides miss the point. The Senate never was intended to be a majoritarian institution and never will be. Born of a great compromise during the 1787 convention to appease smaller states that feared they would be drowned out by larger states, the Senate was supposed to be the more reasoned institution while the House was home to the majoritarian mob. In fact, the Constitution explicitly forbids even amendments that would makethe Senate majoritarian; states must have equal number of senators.

3 Comments:

Blogger Ha ha hit him again said...

Actually I do believe states can give their own consent to having their number of Senators reduced. Perhaps if Torrecelli was still in there with Launtenberg, he would look to exercise that option?

5/07/2005 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger bum from jersey said...

i would like to see an end to the filibuster. maybe something will actually get done in washington except around election time and the numerous vacation breaks they recieve. i am a minority...i am screwed either way.

5/09/2005 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger OXEN said...

You must have been listening to little Chuckie Schumer yesterday.

The Senate is not a majoritarian body. My good friend from Utah spoke. He represents about two million people in Utah. I represent 19 million in New York State. We have the same vote. You could have 51 votes for a judge on this floor that represents 21 percent of the American people. So the bottom line is very simple. This has not always been a 50.1 to 49.9 body. It has been a body that has had to work by its rules and by the Founding Fathers' intent. Even when you are in the majority, you have to reach out and meet not all, not most, but some of the concerns of the minority.

You're both wrong by the way.

The number of constituents in the States has nothing to do with who holds a majority in the Senate?

There are two Senators from each state, it's the House that is dependent on the population. And that only stipulates how many reps from the state there will be, the people will vote in who they want to determine what party holds power.

To have a majority in the Senate you only need 51 in the majority party in order to be the majority.

And to confirm judges all you need is a majority (51) votes. Read Article II sec. II of the US Constitution, it's really clear, there is NO super-majority required to confirm judges.

5/11/2005 02:42:00 PM  

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