Saturday, April 16, 2005

Let's Have a Real Filibuster

The USA Today story on Republican efforts to end the filibuster notes:

Today's judicial filibusters haven't been nearly as colorful as filibusters past. In the television age, senators have avoided round-the-clock talkathons, which had led their predecessors to set up cots in cloakrooms and rig up plastic bags so they wouldn't have to interrupt their orations for a bathroom break. Instead, they just agree not to talk about the filibustered topic.

Did you catch that? The Democrats' filibuster is not a real filibuster in the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington ideal. It’s a gentlemanly filibuster where both parties agree to halt debate on a topic so everyone can go home or go to dinner or give Sunday morning interviews or whatever.

Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has a good idea. Ornstein thinks:

that calling the Democrats' bluff on Bush's judges and making them conduct a real filibuster might be a better way to end it than changing the rules. But he doesn't believe today's senators would stand for it. "They just don't have people who are up to sleeping in cots, giving up their fundraisers and other activities," Ornstein says.

So, basically, the Republicans would rather end the right to filibuster judicial nominees than have to hang out in the Senate cloakroom and force the Democrats to conduct an honest-to-god filibuster.

The Yellow Line would like to see some good, old-fashioned filibustering from our Senators. If this is truly about more than party politics—if this is actually about Senators standing up for what they really believe—then they should be willing to sacrifice their steak dinners and Georgetown featherbeds for a few days of filibustering.


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