LTE Never to be Published
The Daily ran an opinion piece yesterday about overturning the Senate Filibuster. I wrote a letter to the editor that was not published in today’s edition. As Friday is the most likely time to get these things published, I think its unlikely it will ever see the cold crisp pages of our local circular. Maybe my argument was too high brow! Even so, the letter can live on here, among my clutter of thoughts. Maybe someone will pick up the term “Elephant in a China Shop” and make it famous.
Grasping the Subtleties
The United States Senate is a complicated legislative body. It is the embodiment of federalism central to American democracy. The only rule handed down to the Senate by the Constitution is that the Senate, independent from all other branches of government, shall decide what that federalism looks like. We elect Senators to help shape American federalism. Maybe a fluke of history, or perhaps intentional and structured, our Senators decided that an aspect of federalism means that if 2/5th of the states want continued discussing of an issue, discussion continues.
Is it obstructionist? I’m not convinced. During Clinton’s term the Republicans held up numerous appeals court nominees in committee. It’s a rule, devised by our Senators, that allows a minority of Senators (ten, to be exact) to prevent a nomination from reaching the floor and that all important up or down vote. Is that rule obstructionist? Is that rule unconstitutional?
I suggest the rules are one in same. If it is unconstitutional for 40 senators to hold up a nominee, than it is equally unconstitutional for 10 senators to hold up a nominee. The Senate is a subtle body, designed to represent the complexity of American federalism. Declaring the filibuster unconstitutional and questioning centuries of American tradition over a small handful of appointees is a bit too much like the elephant in the china shop for my tastes.