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February 16, 2005

Changing the Filibuster Rules

Senate Majority Leader Bill First has the votes needed to change filibuster rules, which would clear the way for easier confirmation of judicial appointments, according to The Washington Times.

Hugh Hewitt agrees with Frist “that the Constitution does not provide 41 Senators the power to block nominees. Thus every time a filibuster is employed against the nominee, damage is done to the Constitution's intent. I think that is a damage worth halting at the first opportunity.”

And Hugh argues that the fact that Republicans may need to use the nominee filibuster at a later date is unconvincing because it is “the embrace of extraconstitutional means to reach political objectives.”

Yes, but not unconstitutional. We should be careful seeking rule changes that serve immediate political goals but may be dangerous for long term protection of the power of the political minority. I’m not ready to assume that the current domination by the Republican Party will last. The political landscape could easily trend back toward the Democrats, particularly if inroads into the Hispanic community don’t continue.

Posted by Jim at February 16, 2005 06:10 AM

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As I noted here, there is already a way to deal with the filibuster problem; elections. And the way the 2004 elections went, there are now more Republicans, and there are more Democrats looking over their shoulders at a reddening constituency.

I'm with you, Jim. Hugh wants Frist to push the button on the nuclear option. I think we shouldn't respond to Democrats using a tactic by taking that tactic out of our arsenal.

Posted by: Doug Payton at February 16, 2005 03:24 PM


I agree with you. Hugh is a long-term GOP political activist, which is why he tends to view choices in terms of how best to maximize the political advantages of the Republican party. The problem with that approach is that it tends to sacrifice solid and transcendant principle for the sake of current political expediency.

I think the GOP should bite the bullet and take the high road on this issue and not choose the "nuclear" option the despicable political maneuvering of the Democratic party notwithstanding. Someone has to start taking a principled, rather than political, stand. The Republicans should lead the way.

Posted by: Tom B. at February 16, 2005 03:56 PM