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Monday, March 21, 2005

The Nuclear Option

Iain Duncan Smith gives some good advice to Politicians here in The New York Times:

I hope American senators will reflect on Britain's experience. Senate Democrats need to consider if their filibustering against President Bush's judicial nominations might eventually carry too big a price. The original filibusteros were Spanish and Portuguese pirates. They demanded a heavy price for releasing hijacked ships. But it was never set too high. For if the price became too dear, the authorities would decide that it was cheaper to eliminate such banditry than to tolerate it. Since Democrats started filibustering the White House's nominations, two sets of Congressional elections have taken place. In both, the Republicans made gains in part because they were able to portray Democrats as 'obstructionists.' The Democrats now have to decide if they have delayed enough and it is time for the Senate's majority will to be expressed. Republicans also need to proceed carefully. Once a guillotine or other minority-limiting power has been introduced, minority rights are never so sacrosanct again. Republicans now bask in the glory of recent advances but, one day, they will be in the minority again. This is a time for parliamentary statesmanship. Britain did not have enough such statesmanship 120 years ago. America needs it now.
I don't think that the 'nuclear option' would be a huge step, it would only effect the advice and consent provision restoring an appointee to require a majority, rather than 60% to be put into office. However, I do think that the filibuster rule as a whole is a very good one (although I would perhaps prefer just a 60% passage rule for laws rather than forcing Senators to speak mindlessly during the process) and this could be a step towards doing away with the filibuster altogether. I can foress that causing problems in the future.

3 Comments:

Blogger Karl Maher said...

Actually, your filibuster preference is now practice. Nobody actually "speaks mindlessly" anymore. The minority just says no dice, and the Senate moves on to the next order of business.

I liked it more when they had to talk.

3/21/2005 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I wasn't aware of that. Guess I need to watch more C-Span.

Nah, I don't think so. I am a political junky, but not THAT MUCH of a political junky.

3/21/2005 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Karl is correct. The Democrats threaten a filibuster, and Republicans don't bring up the issue for a vote.

Why not just change the rule for this session? Eliminate filibusters for nominees until the next Congress. That way, it could be portrayed as a trial run, and if it's as bad as the Democrats want us to believe, then it won't be renewed!

3/22/2005 08:09:00 AM  

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