Below is my pillar on the continuing Democratic effort to eliminate the Senate filibuster. You will find good-faith disagreements against filibusters but there’s a new campaign to announce the rule as racist. Once again, many in the media are ignoring both the history and hypocrisy surrounding the filibuster, such as in the media conference a week by President Joe Biden. Biden wasn’t asked in several questions on the filibuster about his defense against a rule he now dismisses as a racist relic. In 2005 he stated:
The Senate shouldn’t behave rashly by changing its own rules to meet a strong-willed bulk acting at the heat of the second…Proponents of the’nuclear option’ argue that their proposal is simply the latest iteration of a growing trend towards majoritarianism in the Senate. God save us from this fate, if it is true…Adopting the’nuclear option’ would change this fundamental understanding and unbroken practice of what the Senate is about. Senators would begin thinking about changing other principles if they “inconvenient” …Altering Senate rules to help in a political fight or another might become standard operating procedure, which, in my opinion, would be catastrophic.”
Here is the pillar:
In such instances, it is a virtual mantra on Capitol Hill that the filibuster has the same meaning as racism and people supporting it are presumptively racist. That point was noted by cable news server Al Sharpton, who threatened to denounce members as bisexual if they encourage the rule. The only thing more dramatic than such historical revisionism is that the political revisionism underlying this new federal campaign.
The filibuster is more a”relic” of the Julius Caesar age than the Jim Crow era. In early Rome, the filibuster was used to induce the Senate to listen to dissenting voices, including an opposition of Cato the Younger into Julius Caesar returning to Rome. The basis for the filibuster now can be traced to a debate by former Vice President Aaron Burr which led to a change at the early 1800s. The minority has used versions of the rule to obstruct or induce consensus on controversial legislation, which range from war actions to oil mandates. It wasn’t created in the Jim Crow era.
But Biden is correct that a number of the most abusive uses of the filibuster was by segregationists in the 1950s, as evidenced by Strom Thurmond, a South Carolina Democrat, who set the record with filibustering the Civil Rights Act for over 24 hours.
The filibuster was created as a defense for the minority at what is frequently known as”greatest deliberative body” It isn’t inherently racist. If this were the situation, each vast majority rule would be displaced because most of our racist legislation was passed by majority votes, including invoices that encouraged slavery or target minority groups.
They did not argue the rule was that the embodiment of racism but instead that the center of the Senate. As Senate majority leader, Schumer decries the identical filibuster as the rule invented by segregationists.
Other Democrats denounced previous moves to finish the rule as ruining any hopes for political consensus. Barack Obama denounced the principle as a racist device back when he was a member at the Senate and convicted its elimination as an obvious effort to set up celebration control by shifting”the principles in the center of the game so they can make all of the decisions while another party is told to sit down and keep quiet.” He also added,”If the majority chooses to end the filibuster and should they decide to modify the rules and put an end to democratic argument, then the fighting along with the bitterness as well as the gridlock is only going to become worse.”
Obama functioned at a Senate where Republicans had a clear majority. The Senate has become broken down the center for a split which lets Vice President Kamala Harris to break ties. That’s in effect the celebration control feared by Obama. Harris denounced the idea only a couple years back and asked Mitch McConnell, in the time Senate majority leader, to preserve the filibuster to protect the”principles, practices, and customs” supporting members in the minority. She opposed”any effort to curtail the present rights and prerogatives for associates to take part in robust and prolonged debate as we consider legislation within this body in the future.”
There was no reference of Jim Crow or the filibuster as racist. With regard to Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who back the filibuster as a conventional rule protecting the minority,” Sharpton has vowed”the strain that we will wear” them will be for calling that the filibuster”racist and saying they are, consequently, encouraging racism.”
So members are currently on notice that the rule designed to safeguard minority rights in the Senate will now be seen as attempting to reject minority votes in elections. It is that easy. Yet a great irony is that this original aim of the filibuster hasn’t been more crucial. While one can make the situation contrary to the rule on purely democratic or bulk grounds, such issues already raised by Obama and many others are magnified today.
The rule of consensus provides a vital balance to political interests as opposed to operating around the aisle. It hands Democrats a poorly needed excuse to participate Republicans and look for middle ground. With no as Obama noted,”the battling along with the bitterness and the gridlock is only going to become worse.” For a country with violence on both sides, that fighting is now a literal and increasing danger. It is no accident that the filibuster has played the more dominant role throughout our periods of greatest branch. It was used to attempt to forge consensus despite rising lethality of political rhetoric.
In the end, the rule does not rescue us from ourselves. Caesar made it into Rome, just to be murdered by a number of the guys debating his arrival. Jim Crow laws were state laws however, the Senate permitted that disgraceful age of discrimination to occur. In the long run, our laws are no greater than we are, however, we are worse off when there is not much demand for consensus.
You are able to find his upgrades online @JonathanTurley.