Monday, April 3, 2017

The long slow death of the filibuster

The filibuster became ill in March. . .


March 8, 1917, to be exact.

That's the day that the Senate adopted the cloture rule.

Prior to the cloture rule the Senate allowed for unlimited debate.  So, in a classic filibuster, a Senator could take the floor and yap as long as he could hold out, keeping a vote from occuring.

During the Wilson Administration, however, filibusters started to prevent the Senate from doing its work. The final straw came when the Senate couldn't vote on a bill to arm merchantmen.  After that, the Senate changed the rules so that debate could be cut off by a 2/3s vote of the Senate.

And that worked for a long time, but it started breaking down in recent years.  Hence the 2013 Democratic change in the rules, and the probable 2017 elimination of it in regard to Supreme Court nominations.

Well, if the Democrats didn't want this result, .they shouldn't have brought it about, either now or in 2013.

And they don't have to.

But if they don't, they might get something they really don't want.  A Supreme Court nominee who is reserved, which means more questions would be reserved to the legislative bodies . . .which liberals don't trust.

And hence, by taking this act, they'll eliminate the anti democratic filibuster, at least in part, in the name of being anti democratic.  A move they'll likely regret, assuming that Trump can get his act together with the GOP, or rather the other way around, and there's another Supreme Court nominee during the next two years.  On that occasion, a restrained nominee, and Gorsuch is hardly immoderate, won't be necessary.

And for those counting on voter outrage. . .suggesting that there are questions that should go to the voters is hardly a position that will hurt the GOP.  And this assumes that the average voter cares about cloture at all, which is doubtful.

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