Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Can we end the filibuster now?

The Senate Republicans have just filibustered the third nominee, Cornelia T L Pillard, for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. This raises the obvious question that I've been asking for years: how long are we going to allow this to go on? No amount of handshake agreements and temporary armistices are going to solve this problem. The Republican Party is long past the point of respecting institutional norms.

As I showed back in January, Republicans Caused All Filibuster Abuse. Since 1960, each time the Republicans were in the minority, they increased the use of the filibuster. When the Democrats were in the minority, they abided by the new norm that the Republicans set. In some cases, they actually reduced it to a new norm, only to have the Republicans push the number of filibusters to unprecedented levels.

Folks, this is very simple: when the Republicans are in the majority they willat least stop the filibuster for nominations. Democrats who think otherwise are living in some fantasy land where everyone is fairies and elves, the the Republican Party doesn't even exist. Does my own dear Senator Dianne Feinstein really think her support for the filibuster is going to save it as a Senate tradition after the Republicans take over again? In the 20 years she has served, she's watched as the Republicans, and the Republicans alone, have caused the number of filibusters to go up almost 400%. She's a cynical old slumlord; she can't possibly be blind to what is really going on.
Chuck Grassley is egging us on. He said, "Go ahead. There are a lot more Scalias and Thomases that we'd love to put on the bench." The problem with this logic is that neither Scalia nor Thomas were filibustered. But you can be sure that if Obama nominated someone even half as liberal as Ruth Bader Ginsburg today, the Republicans wouldn't just filibuster her, they'd charge that the president had nominated something that was vomited right out of the rotting corpse of Stalin.

Implicit in Grassley's comment, of course, is the idea that only the Democrats would get rid of the filibuster. I'm tired of talking about this, but the Republicans were the first ones to get rid of the filibuster. As I wrote in July, "And the only reason [the Republicans didn't end the filibuster] was the Gang of 14 made a deal that turned out to mean, 'As long as the Democrats never filibuster judicial nominees, the filibuster stays.' And doncha know, as soon as the Republicans were in the minority, the filibuster was being used more than ever but the Gang of 14 quietly disbanded. Funny that!"

So let's do it! Let's end the filibuster at least on nominations and get a little more balance on the federal court. The way it is now, it is tipped way too far to the right. This one is simple for me and it should be simple for all liberals. I'm willing to let the conservatives do as they want when they are in power as long as liberals get to do the same. The reason is that our ideas are better. In a fair fight, we win hands down. The current situation just allows the conservatives to make everything worse without ever getting blamed for it.

End the filibuster now!
(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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