James Leroy Wilson's blog

Friday, May 20, 2005

Against the Filibuster

I wrote previously on the filibuster, suggesting that if Democrats want to shut down business over a judicial appointment, Republicans should just propose abolishing the office.

Some other observations. When I listened to Rush Limbaugh several years ago, his constant complaint against Republicans is that they were too nice, always defending themselves from Democrat charges instead of goingon offense. The GOP doesn't have that problem any more, and I have a grudging respect of their willingness to play hardball. Yet, it is all the more damning of them, because they are not willing to play hardball on, say, spending cuts. That's not even a game they want to play anymore. This is about what Richard Nixon said to Pat Buchanan: the GOP has to give conservatives 20% of what they want.

I may not be a fan of reversing the filibuster through the chair's fiat, which appears to be the Republican plan, but I'm not at all a fan of the filibuster. I do not see how, or when, it has provided such a "check" for liberty and against the growth and government. It may have delayed some things for a few weeks, but has it ever killed a pernicious bill? It does not stop bad laws or excessive spending, but it does make their repeal all but impossible. Did it stop McCain-Feingold? Or the National ID? In this instance, it is being employed against "conservative" judicial nominees, that is, those who might have some degree of deference for states' rights, and some degree of criticism for Roe v. Wade. In the "culture war" provoked by that unconstitutional and ill-reasoned decision, non-liberal judges could not and would not ban abortions, or force prayer in school; all they can do at the most is restore some federalism in our system of government.

Just like omnibus bills (like the national ID being tacked on to an Iraq spending bill) and dictatorship by committee chairman, the filibuster is not a help to the cause of liberty, just a hindrance to good order. It is one of those arcane traditions from when the Senate was unelected and had about 30 members. It makes one almost yearn for a British-style parliamentary system of government.


  1. Anonymous1:01 PM PDT

    What kills me is that they don't even filibuster anymore in the way that we popularly imagine it. (a la Mr. Smith goes to Washington)

    There's no more holding the floor for hours without a bathroom break, they just say "we're filibustering" and your imagination has to fill in the rest.

    Lazy slackers...

    Steve (absitinvidia.com)

  2. I thought you disappeared! Good to have you back around and I've put your blog back on my list.

    And you're right. If you filibuster, FILIBUSTER, Damn it!

    Filibuster does not and ought not mean the same thing as hijack.