Thursday, April 28, 2005

Deference Lost

An interesting aspect of the “nuclear option” debate is the retaliation threatened by Dems. I think this is definitely overlooked as the most interesting part of this whole debate. First, let’s be clear about what various polls mean.
1. A majority of Americans oppose the judges who have not been confirmed (not a plurality, a majority). Good for Dems.
2. A majority of Americans think these judges should get an up-or-down vote. Good for Reps.
3. A majority of Americans think the filibuster should stand. Good for Dems.
4. Sadly I have not seen poll numbers on this, but I imagine that it’s true that a plurality of Americans would oppose Democrats stopping the entire business of the Senate for the rest of the term (except for budget and defense) if the nuclear option were to happen. Good for Reps.
So, yeah, either party can select what good news they want from that.

What’s interesting kinda, is not that Democrats would just outright stop everything, but how they would. They would cease something called deference to the agenda of the majority. The individualist nature of the Senate works such that anyone could propose legislation, but then nothing would get done, so the majority leader monopolizes proposals (and the Committees). Violating this agreement would allow Reid to propose lots of bills that a) waste time, b) have majority support among the American people and c) Democratic supporters would love to see voted on.

I think this is an even more radical change in the Senate’s fiber than the end of the filibuster, if it happens. The idea that anything with the support of 51 or more Senators would pass, and not just laws presented by the majority leadership, would be a huge breakdown in partisan control. That's hugely more democratic a step than overriding that one minority protection. So here's hoping.


At 11:42 PM, Anonymous little_e- said...

is there actually any chance of that, or are you just pie in the skying? I admit taht it sounds pretty cool.


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