Sunday, November 25, 2012

Switching Sides on the Filibuster

Attitudes toward procedure have a way of shifting with the balance of power.  When one side is in the majority, it wants to sweep away impediments to swift action.  When it is in the minority, it sees those same impediments as necessary safeguards of deliberative democracy.

A previous post described the conflict between Senate Republicans, who want to use the filibuster, and the majority Senate Democrats, who want to curb it.

Things were different a few years ago.

In 2005, Republicans controlled the Senate and considered a maneuver to end filibusters of judicial nominations.  Critics of the move defended the filibuster.  The Center for American Progress wrote:
As early as this week, a “nuclear option” could be invoked to remove the 200-year-old tradition of the Senate filibuster, the tool that empowers 41 or more senators to prevent a narrow majority from abusing its power. The filibuster is one of the only ways to encourage genuine bipartisan cooperation and compromise on important issues that come before the Senate. The nuclear option is currently being considered by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and being pushed by the Religious Right, who would like to confirm President Bush’s judicial nominees.
People for the American Way set up a website www.savethefilibuster.org and produced a television ad defending the filibuster:

 
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