Thursday, May 19, 2005

Fristibuster - A Senate With No Rules

There are so many aspects of the Fristibuster debate, most of which have been examined at length. The nominees being debated learned little in law school and have forgotten most of that. The "this is an unprecedented use of the filibuster" argument is disingenuous in the extreme. The 2002 Congressional Research Service Report on Cloture debunks that silliness.

Maybe the most disturbing aspect of this proposal is that, if used, we will have a Senate with No Rules. Rules are what makes our society function, whether in our personal lives or in the operation of government. If you can change the rules regarding your personal behavior to suit your needs at a given time, there are no rules. You are simply free to do whatever you wish - lie, cheat, steal, etc. The same is true with government, whether a homeowners association or the Congress. That is why every organization has a procedure which requires some form of Super Majority to change its operating rules. Without that, a majority would be free to do whatever it wished at any time. That not only results in a tyranny of the majority, but also the chaos of the ever changing whims of the electorate.

This is arguably the worst aspect of the Fristibuster. Currently, Senate rules can only be changed with a two thirds majority approving the change. Mr. Frist, with the enabling of Dick Cheney, asserts he can ignore the rule regarding Filibusters (unlimited debate that can only be ended with a three fifths vote) by simply having fifty Senators and one Vice President say that a new rule applies. Once that tactic is used for judicial filibusters it can be used for any and every rule of the Senate. We will no longer have a Senate. We will have fifty spoiled children and their buddy taking their ball home whenever they wish.

Gary L. Norton

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