Saturday, May 14, 2005

Majority Rule in the Senate

As illustrated in the previous post, Democrats and some of their media supporters have persistently distorted what they call "the nuclear option" as an effort by Senate Republicans "to end the age-old filibuster, where any senator can threaten to stop any vote just by continuously talking." They say that because it sounds pretty extreme and helps them in their fight to prevent the Senate from voting up-or-down on judicial nominees they don't like. It would be extreme, if it were true. But it isn't.

A reader who commented on the previous post said, "...the Republicans ARE threatening to end the filibuster. That's not a distortion. It won't just be for judicial nominees. Once the filibuster is's gone for legislation as well."

The reader is wrong. There are numerous sources available to prove that, but I'll quote only one. According to a report in the New York Times, the Senate Majority Leader plans to use the federal appeals court nominations of Priscilla R. Owen and Janice Rogers Brown as a catalyst:

Under the plans outlined by senior aides, the Republicans, after ample debate, will force a test vote on one of the nominees to demonstrate that she has majority support in the Senate. That vote will be followed by a request for a parliamentary ruling that filibusters on court nominees can be overridden by a new precedent that itself requires a vote. Should Republicans prevail on that critical vote, they will assert that the new precedent has been established and move to confirm one of the nominees by majority vote instead of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.

The aides said the new precedent would apply both to appeals court nominees and to future Supreme Court nominees, though not to candidates for the federal district courts.

As a matter of principle, the majority must prevail in a democratic body like the U.S. Senate. It doesn't matter who is in the majority. For those who understand the way functional democratic legislatures work, it's clear that the U.S. Senate offers an unusual amount of protection and influence to the minority. The quaint filibuster process is a perfect example. But at the end of the day there has to be a vote, and the will of the majority must be respected. The Senate has for too long permitted a minority to dominate the process of confirming judicial nominees by threatening to filibuster, which is contrary to two centuries of Senate practice.

In a democracy, a party controls government by convincing the people to elect them. Democrats should concentrate on winning more seats in the Senate and stop trying to subvert the process.


Blogger Appalachian Gun Trash said...

Well said, Colonel. However, one minor point re last paragraph. I believe we're a republic, not a democracy.

8:39 PM, May 14, 2005  

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