May 14, 2005

Filibuster constitutional, GOP should break rules

That from the National Review. Analysis on Kos.

Looks like the thinking cons are out of sync with the party line here. When the dust settles perhaps words like these from the Nat'l Review will remind people of the radical illegitimacy of the Nuclear Option, like next time they're in the voting booth.


  1. Stephen Smith3:21 PM

    "The party line" has never been that the filibuster of judicial nominations was unconstitutional. Senator Frist, for example, has never maintained that such a filibuster was unconstitutional and neither has the National Review. They have simply made the claim that such a filibuster was unprecedented and obstructionist. We will see very soon in what exact form the rule change occurs, but Kos is wrong that it will involve the simple declaration that the judicial filibuster is unconstitutional. Rather it will invoke the Senate's constitutional power to determine the rules of its own preceedings by a majority of its quorum. As Senator Robert Byrd said on the Senate floor in 1979: "The Constitution in article I, section 5, says that each House shall determine the rules of its own preceedings. Now we are at the beginning of Congress. This Congress is not obliged to be bound by the dead hand of the past . . .[I]t is my belief -- which has been supported by rulings of Vice Presidents of both parties and by votes of the Senate -- in essence upholding the power and the right of a majority of the Senate to change the rules of the Senate at the beginning of a new Congress" (125 Cong. Rec. 144)

  2. I don't really care what Klansmen said in 1979.

    But I do enjoy watching your contortionist act in attempting to defend this shit. Keep it up and you might even retain control of 45% of the House come 2006.

  3. Stephen Smith5:03 PM

    First, I don't think you can dismiss Byrd's comments so easily. He was the Democratic Majority Leader when he made the speech from which I quoted. Moreover, he wasn't just pontificating. He put his theory into use and did affect rule changes through simple majority vote, creating a clear precedent for the forthcoming action to abolish the judicial filibuster.

    Second, am I to assume from your silence that you have abandoned your claim that the Republican "party line" was that the filibuster is unconstitutional? While some Republican Senators have made this overzealous claim, the party leadership has never done so, nor have the smarter conservative publications like the National Review.

    Third, Repubicans may well lose seats in the House (after all that would be the historical norm for a president's mid-term election), but that would have nothing to do with the abolition of the judicial filibuster. I assume from your failure to mention the Senate that you concede that it is hopeless for the Democrats to achieve a majority in that body in the near term. If so, I would have to agree.

  4. Thw claim about the party line was never really serious. I am aware that "While some Republican Senators have made this overzealous claim, the party leadership has never done so," but this blog often likes to use a little hyperbole, irony, and various other rhetorical flourishes. We're a blog, so we can. Generally I like to think it's pretty clear when we are being factual and when we're not, but yes you're correct here, and thanks for clarifying for everyone who is not informed.

  5. That said, the fact that many Republicans, if not all the GOP politicians, do not use the term "Nuclear Option" but, rather, "Constitutional Option," is pretty telling evidence contrary to what you say. The argument that the Option has justification in the Constitution might not be one invoked per se by these figures, but, significantly,they use this language to frame the debate and make the suggestion. I am assuming this was the work of Frank Luntz or some similar figure, and was spread via memo to most Republican operatives, and could thus be said to be "party line" indeed.

  6. Stephen Smith3:00 PM

    I agree that the term "constitutional option" is somewhat misleading in that it might be seen to imply that the filibuster of judicial nominees is unconstitutional. However, there is constitutional basis for each Senate's ability to change the rules of the Senate through through majority vote. In any case, the loose use of the word constitutional is nothing in terms of spin compared to talk of "nuclear exchange" (Harry Seid) or "strangling debate in the Senate" (Ted Kennedy). Thanks for the response and sorry for taking you literally on the "party line" thing.