The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, April 04, 2005

Filibuster fun

Great craic at all levels:

There are the nice questions of constitutionality and Senate precedents. The Rubik's Cube of political calculation and spin. And the circus, with a Congressional freak-show match-fit and raring to go, following the Schiavo farrago.

(Though, for most of the Dems, match-fitness - not so much.)

A Chicago Tribune op-ed wisely counsels us to treat those two impostors just the same.

For instance, it says,
In 1995, The New York Times editorialized for junking the filibuster, which it called "an archaic rule that frustrates democracy" and "the tool of the sore loser." Recently, the Times admitted it had experienced a deathbed conversion and could see that its earlier position was simply "wrong."

The parallel is with complaints about activist judges. When the Supreme Court was activist in Dred Scott and Lochner v NY, (the equivalent of) liberals hated it. When the Court legislated schools desegregation in Brown, they wet themselves.

A minority party will tend to favour filibusters, a majority party will tend to decry them. There is no principle, only pretence.

(The biggest professional group in the Senate is lawyers. And any lawyer worth his salt happily prepares a brief for either plaintiff or defendant, whoever comes along first. Or offers to pay the most.)

The Times' rundown of lobbying activity on the subject has the startling news for the GOP that
a coalition of conservative groups, including the anti-union National Right to Work Committee, the Gun Owners of America and the anti-abortion National Pro-Life Alliance, has recently broken ranks. All argue that changing the rules to prevent filibustering nominees would lead to the elimination of legislative filibusters, which conservatives have relied on to protect gun rights and abortion restrictions.

And you thought flaking among the Republican faithful was confined to process conservatives!

A fascinating battle of cojones is in prospect: the Senate GOP geed up (some of it) by the Schiavo circus but led by Bill Frist, a guy who (like Lyndon Johnson before him) wants a presidentiable image for 2008 incompatible with a war on judicial confirmations; and the Dems, ahead on points on social security but having suffered several KOs already [1] and led by General Harry Reid whose order of the day every day is Hold your fire.

Donkeys led by a lion: the Cowardly Lion!

We'll see. Ed.

  1. Cabinet confirmations, tort reform bill, bankruptcy bill...

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