Thanks, Dan, we so miss you at Ohio State, but are glad to reconnect whenever there’s an opportunity. Thanks, Rick, for this opportunity to join the ELB blogging team.
As I start, the Senate Rules Committee hearing today is top of mind. It’s an unusual field hearing in Georgia. As the AJC reports, Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar is taking the voting rights show on the road in the hope of generating public pressure for some sort of movement in the Senate on the issue. (Carl Hulse of The NY Times has a profile of Klobuchar’s effort to elevate the committee’s visibility.)
I’ll be interested to see if this strategy works. I’m hardly an expert in Senate politics, but I would have thought that a better move for Democrats right now would be to focus on the issue of partisan gerrymandering, given that as a matter of timing the need to draw new maps for the 2022 midterms occurs before issues relating to the casting and counting of ballots must be addressed. It also seems to me that it would be harder for Senate Republicans to defend a filibuster if a bill focused solely on combatting unjustifiable partisan distortion of district lines. And if Democrats were to be successful in convincing their reluctant colleagues to modify the filibuster rules, perhaps just to convert the filibuster to the “talking” form that would require Republicans to consistently come up with the 41 votes to block the bill, it might be hard for GOP Senators to sustain the effort to protect the raw power to engage in partisan gerrymandering at the expense of the will of the electorate. But I don’t anticipate gerrymandering being a focus of today’s hearing; instead, I expect it to center on the kinds of casting and counting issues that have dominated public discussion of potential electoral reform over the last several months.