March 4, 2005


'Nuking' Free Speech (Robert Byrd, March 4, 2005, Washington Post)

This nuclear option could rob a senator of the right to speak out against an overreaching executive branch or a wrongheaded policy. It could destroy the Senate's very essence -- the constitutional privilege of free speech and debate.

To understand the danger, one needs to understand the Senate. The Framers created an institution designed not for speed or efficiency but as a place where mature wisdom would reside. They intended the Senate to be the stabilizer, the fence, the check on attempts at tyranny. To carry out that role, an individual senator has the right to speak, perhaps without limit, in order to expose an issue or draw attention to new or differing viewpoints. But this legislative nuclear option would mute dissent and gag opposition voices.

We have heard the president call for an up-or-down vote on his judicial nominees. But nowhere in the Constitution is an up-or-down vote -- or even a vote at all -- guaranteed, and the president cannot reinterpret our nation's founding document to achieve his political goals. Those who disagree with the president in this matter will be labeled "obstructionists," but nothing could be further from the truth.

That "perhaps without limit" is just precious. As the Senator well knows, the filibuster is entirely extra-constitutional (perhaps anti-constitutional?), a rule of the Senate, not a Constitutional provision. Meanwhile, his argument that the Constitution does not require an up-or-down vote, nor even a vote at all, on judicial nominees is obviously true, but would appear to have implications he does not comprehend: does he really wish to provoke a showdown over what Senate "Consent" consists of? As he's conceded, it doesn't appear to require that the Senate actually vote to confirm nominees.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 4, 2005 12:00 AM

Perhaps the rule should be changed so that the President's nominees automatically are confirmed, unless the Senate votes otherwise, instead of the other way around. That would be fun to watch.

Posted by: Timothy at March 4, 2005 1:17 AM
The Framers created an institution designed not for speed or efficiency but as a place where mature wisdom would reside [emphasis added]

Really? Then how on earth did Mr. Byrd get in???

Posted by: Kirk Parker at March 4, 2005 1:22 AM

I suggest the "Neutron Option"(TM)...
Mr. Frist gathers all 55 Senate Republicans together, discusses all judicial nominees, and takes a vote on each. At the next meeting of the full Senate, he stands and announces that a majority of the Senate has given their consent to the President's nominees and advises him that these are all quality individuals who will be assets to the American judicial system. He then tells Mr. KKKKKKKKKK Byrd that his days of clouding and hampering the Senate's role in the judicial confirmation process are finished. "Now", Frist will continue, "let us be about nation's business, bearing in mind that this is a place where mature wisdom resides [grow up Bobby and quit being such a turd!]."

Posted by: Dave W. at March 4, 2005 2:13 AM

That's funny. We just went through all kinds of time and effort to elect all these Republican senators, including one in my home state, and these filibusters deny them their chance to vote on judicial nominees. I see any change to the systm as a defense shield against disenfranchisement.

Posted by: Moe from NC at March 4, 2005 6:51 AM

Every time Robert Byrd opens his mouth, it is an argument against both the existence of the Senate and the practices of zoophilia and inbreeding.

Posted by: Bart at March 4, 2005 7:21 AM

What the framers intended and what the modern senate is are two different things. Student of the constitution, take a lesson.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at March 4, 2005 8:06 AM

The 17th Amendment was a crime against nature.

Posted by: Bart at March 4, 2005 8:53 AM

The filibuster should be abolished for all purposes.

Posted by: Bob at March 4, 2005 9:41 AM


But it was "democratizing".

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at March 4, 2005 10:23 AM

The fillibuster was invented by the Democrat party to allow Southern Senators to protect its peculiar institution. It has not ever been used by anyone to protect widows, orphans or any vulnerable minority.

It is time for it to go.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 4, 2005 12:53 PM

Except by Jimmy Stewart. Remeber Something being fiction is a minor detail to a liberal trying to to climb back up the mountain of power to push the userper off.

Posted by: Dave W. at March 4, 2005 3:00 PM