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Sunday, May 01, 2005

Filibusters: a Different Assessment

An astute analyst has a different take on the subject.

Lawrence Auster, who runs View From The Right, one of my favorites, emailed me the following reaction to Filibusters and Constitutional Principle.

“Your article on the filibuster entirely misses the main point.  You speak at length about the filibuster, as though the Republicans were trying to get rid of it.  But that’s not at all what this is about.  The controversy is not over the filibuster; it over the Democrats’  unprecedented use of the filibuster to block judicial nominations.  The change of the rules that the Republicans are contemplating would only affect the filibuster insofar as it can be used to block judicial nominations. 

“Remember also, judicial nominations are not supposed to be extremely fraught.  A president gets deference on this, assuming there is not something terribly wrong with the nominee.  Approving a nominee is not supposed to be a life and death struggle.  Yet historically the filibuster was used in those issues where someone felt so strongly about the issue that they felt it had to be stopped.  Bringing the filibuster into the area of judicial nominations is a major perversion of the process.”

I agree, first of all, that a President ought to get some deference from the Senate if his nominees are not terribly unsuited for the job.  History, however, tells us that both political parties will, from time to time, be quite unreasonable and that the writers of the Constitution intended to give them the power to be so.

As for missing the main point, what I intended to do was to shed light on why curtailing filibusters might be more harmful to constitutional government in the long run than enduring the ideological slings and arrows of the moment.

My political judgment is not very good.  But it seems preferable that the nation as a whole force the liberal-socialists to permit a floor vote than to cast the Republicans in the role of dictators, as the Democrats surely will tag them if the nuclear option is exercised.

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