April 25, 2005

"Hate the Filibuster? You Might Want to Nuke the Entire Senate"

You can download my new Roll Call oped here (without a subscription; thanks to Roll Call for permission to reprint). It begins:

    Democrats in the Senate have used the power of the filibuster to block from office the 10 most ideologically extreme of President Bush’s nominees for federal judgeships, while approving a vast majority of his nominees. In response, some Republicans have threatened to change the filibuster rules in the name of “majority rule,” and Democrats have countered by saying they will grind the chamber’s business to a halt if the GOP eliminates the filibuster on judicial nominations.
    Some Democrats have argued that Republican appeals to majority rule are hypocritical: If Republicans really subscribed to majority rule principles, the argument goes, they would support a constitutional amendment to abolish the Senate itself.
    Actually, we should take the question of abolishing the Senate more seriously — not because it proves Republican hypocrisy, but because it helps us to understand the value of the filibuster. It turns out that the reason Americans would likely oppose abolishing the Senate — because it allows an intense minority to have its opinion taken into account — applies equally to the filibuster.

Posted by Rick Hasen at April 25, 2005 07:28 AM