Rebuttals on Filibusters (no, David, the horse continues to breathe)

I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea; the Democrats are not right to act in the manner which they are by filibustering nominees. It is a partisan action which does nothing to promote any sense of cooperation, a sense which the Congress is desperately lacking in. David, I am glad that you pointed that out. Consensualism is, in a heterogeneous republic such as the United States, a much more stable and workable practice than the majoritarianist, absolute competition which seems to define the policy of both parties in our present time. I will continue, however, to defend my original position; in the context of what David and I have commented upon, to ban filibusters is to further destroy the spirit of contemplative consultation, the mutual agreements and compromise (as Arendt would put it) which are the base of real statesmanship. Here are my rebuttals to some things from Brian’s post (and, to Brian’s brother, I really appreciate your input and your constitutional citations).

Now the great mystery to me is why the hell the Republicans don’t simply call the Democrats bluff and make them filibuster.

I agree completely. This would force the Democrats to demonstrate what is true; that they really do not have any interest in seeking compromise, nor do they care about proceeding with the business of running the country despite their petty partisan games. Like you, I am perplexed as to why the GOP is not capitalizing on this and using the opportunity to further wound the perception of the Democratic Party among swing voters.

If anything, the Democrats are the ones who have changed the Senate rules on advising and consenting, and the Republicans are merely attempting to change the rules back to the way they have always been.

Basically true, but that doesn’t mean that it looks particularly good. Democrats may be taking a loose interpretation of “advise and consent,” but it at least approaches a semblance (since rules aren’t clear as to what means “consent” is delivered by). The Democrats are breaking with convention, which is bad; the Republican Party would be unnecessarily changing procedure, which while it may not be any worse in actuality, is much more severe from the point of view of the public, especially of the swing voter. Good politics necessitate that attention be payed to that voter’s perception; they are the ones who decide elections, power, and ultimately policy.

The Republicans are completely within their Constitutional powers to change Senate rules.

True. But that doesn’t make it a good idea politically for either the Party or the nation itself.

…we all know that the Republicans would never use this tactic of filibustering judges

I’m not convinced on that. I suspect that at least some Republicans would be perfectly willing to do so to block the nominations of judges whose views disagreed with their own on topics such as abortion, gay marriage, religion in schools, et cetera. Would that make it more just, in order to prevent the nomination of “activist judges”? I understand that Republicans have not done so in the past, even in these cases, but that doesn’t define what current or future Republican congressmen might be led to do in a more starkly partisan environment as exists now.

But as far as “blurring the lines of church and state,” that is ridiculous. (In reference to Frist appearing via telecast organized by evangelical/conservative Christian groups)

Not prohibited, but unconventional. And also unwise, considering that Republicans are trying to argue against judicial activism. To clarify my point, I am arguing here that Frist was contradictory by holding forth at an event subtitled “Stop the Filibuster Against People of Faith” (USA Today). The theme of the event clearly was the belief that judges being blocked by filibuster would act in the concomitant interest of the event’s backers. This is a view of the judicial process just as activist and just as warped as that of liberal judicial activism. By appearing before this group, Dr. Frist lost to at least some degree the ability to argue well that he and other Republicans are seeking wise arbiters of the law, rather than another branch of policy makers.

In short, the views of judges on politicized judicial issues like those mentioned above should not be what determines their appointment. This goes for both Republicans and Democrats. Those issues should be resolved through the wise interpretation of the constitution and other attendant laws, not through liberal activism or conservative activism or religious (or nonreligious) morality. I believe that President Bush’s nominees are well-suited for that task, and understand it. It is congressmen of both parties who fail to understand the role of the judiciary.

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