Patterico's Pontifications

11/22/2013

Why Harry Reid’s Move Abolishing the Filibuster Was a Good Thing

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:27 am



For you ADHD readers who couldn’t be bothered to read to the end of last night’s post, I argued that Republicans should be overjoyed that Harry Reid has abolished the filibuster for judicial nominees.

As I have always (consistently!) argued: an up-or-down vote is what judicial nominees deserve under the Constitution. But for those who don’t care about principle, here is the argument for why eliminating the filibuster of judicial nominees is a winner: you can’t tie your own hands when you are in power, on the hope that Democrats will feel constrained to tie their own hands when they are in power. We just saw the folly of that mode of thinking, and I hope the lesson is sinking in, because it goes deeper than this filibuster. They’ll take it away from us in a Supreme Court nomination fight if they feel like it. They’ll steamroll us on simple legislation if they feel like it.

If they can do it, they will do it. It’s liberating to know, deep in our bones, that principle will never constrain them when countervailing pressures get strong. It will keep us from acting weakly (again) when we are in power. And we will be — maybe not tomorrow, but one day.

The Wall Street Journal comes along to echo my thoughts in a very well stated piece that I will quote at length, because it’s chock full of good phrases you will want to use again and again:

The move shows how foolish Republicans like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Orrin Hatch were to worry that if they broke the filibuster, Democrats would then do it too. Democrats did it anyway. The only way to deter bloody-minded Democratic behavior is to treat Democrats as they treat Republicans. Democrats sicced special prosecutors on GOP Presidents for years, but they gave up the independent-counsel statute only after Ken Starr investigated Bill Clinton.

The immediate result of Harry Reid’s power play will be that President Obama has a freer hand to pursue his agenda through regulation and the courts. . . .

. . . .

The silver lining is that the end of the nominee filibuster will work for conservatives too. The next time they hold the Senate and White House, Republicans should employ the same weapon. Democrats are pretending that they are only breaking the filibuster for lower-court nominees, not for the Supreme Court. They can dream on.

The next GOP President should line up Federalist Society alumni for judicial nominations like planes waiting to take off at O’Hare International Airport. Imagine two or three more Clarence Thomases on the High Court confirmed with 51 Senate votes. Planned Parenthood can send its regrets to Harry Reid.

Amen. The piece ends by pointing out that ObamaCare can now be repealed by 51 votes in the Senate. As long as we have those 51 votes — and the will to cast them.

People worry that this will make the Senate more like the House? Look at the Senate and look at the House. Which one do you prefer? OK then.

We have obtained the moral permission to exercise raw power. All we have to do now is get it.

32 Responses to “Why Harry Reid’s Move Abolishing the Filibuster Was a Good Thing”

  1. I think it’s a good thing if Republican senators are not so mind-numbingly stupid and weak as to try to put the filibuster back in place, not expand its absence to Supreme Court nominations and legislation, or use this new (old really) reality to push back the growth of the state.

    Optimism isn’t really my thing, so you can guess where I stand on that. But we’ll see.

    Former Conservative (1b569c)

  2. Much of my disgust with RINOs in Washington is that they didn’t follow through on the threat to end judicial filibusters back when they controlled the Senate. I hope Reid’s move will give them a little backbone in the future.

    Frank (443a4c)

  3. This assumes that we will be able to elect another Republican president, and that the Senate will also be Republican at the time.

    Joshua (9ede0e)

  4. Now McConnell will declare war.

    Against KY TEAs doubtless.

    http://www.redstate.com/2013/11/21/senate-republicans-can-retaliate-will-they/

    Why you Republicans hereabouts are so obstinately loyal is beyond me, Libertarians and a majority of America.

    The Kevorkian Party is a more apt name.

    gary gulrud (dd7d4e)

  5. Terrorist thinking.

    Caligularity (725ced)

  6. And in this case, with the Dems in control, maybe it would be a good idea to prepare for the Republican Apocalypse (should they ever regain senate control) by enacting a radical Liberal, socialist agenda now?

    Thanks for the warning Wingnut, we will act accordingly.

    Caligularity (725ced)

  7. Better trolls please.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  8. I would prefer that a Constitutional Convention be called to deal with some particularly odious remnants of the Progressive Movement of a century ago:
    The Fed;
    The 16th-A;
    The 17th-A.

    And, institute term-limits on the House.

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  9. Strawman Assembly Brigade! Genocide is just a comment away!

    Amalgamated Cliff Divers, Local 157 (f7d5ba)

  10. The move shows how foolish Republicans like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Orrin Hatch were to worry that if they broke the filibuster, Democrats would then do it too. Democrats did it anyway.

    And we all predicted it at the time. Not because we’re psychic, but because it was obvious.

    Milhouse (82b1e0)

  11. Stashiu ID’d Caligularity on another thread late last night.

    elissa (c37a48)

  12. 10- Those should be the first three names on a GOP Retirement List.

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  13. Y’all are clearly too stupid to think about what the consequences will be once your threats are taken seriously.

    Caligularity (01deef)

  14. Yes, that’s why we value your wise counsel – so that we can take the opposite course.

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  15. And why it was a bad thing, from, of all places, the Washington Post’s editors:

    The impact of changing the rules in this way may be even more far-reaching. The Democratic action sets a precedent that a future Republican majority will use to change procedures when it gets into a political jam, rather than negotiate with Democrats. The logical outcome is a Senate operating more like the House, with no rights for the minority, no reason for debate and no incentive to cooperate. For those who view that as an improvement, we offer today’s House as a counterargument.

    Democrats understood all this very well when they were in the minority. “You may own the field right now,” then-Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D) said in 2005, when Republicans threatened to invoke the nuclear option. “But you won’t own it forever. And I pray to God when the Democrats take back control we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing.” Republicans resisted pushing the nuclear button then; both parties should have stepped back and hammered out a bipartisan compromise reform now.

    This time Republicans proved incapable of exercising their minority rights in a responsible way. Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) proved not enough of a leader to resist the “naked power grab.” American democracy is that much poorer as a result.

    The Post has to chide the Republicans some, of course, but it is clear who they are damning as fools and knaves.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  16. Y’all are clearly too stupid to think about what the consequences will be once your threats are taken seriously.

    So, a threat in the guise of responding to imagined threats. Enlighten us. “You’ll be sorry” doesn’t even rise to third-rate thug dialog in most movies.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  17. Caligularity shudders, weeps.

    Former Conservative (31844d)

  18. It’s bananas, all the way down.

    htom (412a17)

  19. Saw a great bumper sticker today:
    I miss Ike; Hell, I even miss Harry. Says it all.

    Judith H (698dfc)

  20. Y’all are clearly too stupid to think about what the consequences will be once your threats are taken seriously.

    Comment by Caligularity (01deef)

    Hey, caligularity and all yer other weak-suck sock-puppets? Eff all y’all.

    Colonel Haiku (f51bfe)

  21. This is just a set up for a ‘McCain saves the Senate ‘ MSM meme when McCain joins with the Ds to re-institute the filibuster for judges after 2016.

    The NYT’s will say that Obama abused the cancellation of the filibuster and it should, therefore, be restarted. Because it was tried, wingnuts, and it didn’t work! They may spin that last sentence a bit different though.

    East Bay Jay (a5dac7)

  22. It will keep us from acting weakly (again) when we are in power.

    Get rid of the likes of McConnell, Boehner and McCain, then that just may happen.

    Blacque Jacques Shellacque (f8209f)

  23. I remember January of 2010 when Massachusetts elected a Senator to replace Teddy Kennedy, a Senator whose biggest campaign promise was to be the forty-first vote against ObamaCare and other radical legislation. The requirement to get 41 votes has a special place in my heart.

    I hope that Republicans have the spine to keep this in place when they are next in power. I also hope that this leads to more actual filibusters, when someone refuses to yield the floor.

    The biggest advantage I see is that Democrats can no longer vote to end debate, then vote against the legislation and thereby look all moderate for their constituents.

    bridget (6b1bdd)

  24. bridget:

    The biggest advantage I see is that Democrats can no longer vote to end debate, then vote against the legislation and thereby look all moderate for their constituents.

    Good point.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  25. bridget:

    I also hope that this leads to more actual filibusters, when someone refuses to yield the floor.

    We need more Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  26. This action by Reid has now put game theory staple, the “Prisoner’s Dilemma” into play. Patterico must know more than a bit about the practical application. The correct response from the losing side in the first round is retaliation at the first opportunity. I’m not a big fan of fighting for small potatoes or lost causes (i.e. these nominations and defying a majority in majority-rules).

    That said, the Republicans have been left with no alternative for correct action, other than to retaliate at first opportunity. But I’m not holding my breath for them to do any right thing.

    TimesDisliker (4590f1)

  27. I think acting to undo whatever the dems accomplish with the rule change is the first order of business, and in one way is not revenge, maybe not even retaliation, just “evening things”, and then reinstate the rule in a way not easily undone.

    As in some ways it would be good for critical things like SCOTUS nominees needing more than 50+1,
    but, with things being so polarized and partisan, even if only on one side, it will be hard to make things civil with more rules.
    In other words, Dem strategy is not adequate to control Dem behavior.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  28. I applaud this move..Its only right that the majority have their way on appointments. I know the idea of majority rule is hard for the Right to accept and that is why they engage in filubusters, gerrymandering, voter suppression and employ the Hastert rule in the House. Still when they get to be the majority they will not have to worry about a nasty intransigent minority the way the Democrats did.

    If they win its only right they rule.. How long is 2062?

    OldWoman (d863d4)

  29. “rule” is not a word properly used in a democracy or a republic.

    elissa (ce1ea8)

  30. It will keep us from acting weakly (again) when we are in power.

    No it won’t.

    Ken (7d9695)

  31. Oh, right. Because when your opponent abandons their principles, that means you should abandon yours. Really evens the contest between you. That way, the American people can choose between TWO parties with no principles! What freedom of choice we’ll have then!

    The reason I have no problem with the Republicans doing what they will do the next time they get the Senate is because THE DEMOCRATS BROKE THE RULES, and in so doing, SET NEW ONES. Hold your enemy to the standards he wants to set when they cut against him — that’s fine. But don’t be the first to do away with something valuable, like (yes) the filibuster. It was a bitch when we were in the majority, but it’s worked out better for us in the last few years.

    You do not abandon your principles simply to wound your enemy. The people who think this is a good idea have clearly adopted their own version of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others before they can do unto you.”

    Demosthenes (26b143)

  32. Anyone besides me like the sounds of “Judge (Kris) Kobach”?

    DanInMN (3cec50)


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