Monday, May 16, 2005

55 - 16 = 39

Let's do the math. If 16 GOP senators are at least considering defying Bush/Cheney/Frist on judicial filibusters and/or Bolton, that leaves 39 senators as the unwavering base of support for the most right-wing nominees sent to the Senate.
This put the concept of "majority rule" in a different light. A majority that faces no significant opposition on anything can effectively put a minority -- for instance 39 senators -- in power.
Under our Constitution, winners of elections still hold limited power. Those who win and yet complain when they can't get their way on every issue fail to fully appreciate how our system of limited government works.
Not accepting the limits to their power, the Republicans in Washington are overreaching:
  • by intervening in one family's difficult decisions on life and death;
  • by conflating challenges to Tom DeLay's ethics as attacks on the conservative movement;
  • by threatening to haul federal judges in for hearings on court decisions.
  • by introducing bills to curtail the independence of our federal courts;
  • by proposing to partially privatize Social Security in the face of growing public opposition;
  • by nominating an ill-tempered ideologue to represent the U.S. before the United Nations;
  • and by threatening to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominees.
The filibuster for judicial nominees is an example of how checks and balances keep our government from lurching too far in one direction or another.
Consider what George Bush could do if he knows that he needs only 51 senators to confirm a nominee. He could send up a more radical nominee, knowing that he has a solid base of 39 senators, and pressure another 12 into voting to confirm. But as long as the filibuster stays in place, the President knows he has to appeal to a somewhat larger set of senators and is likely to send up a more moderate nominee.

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