Going Nuclear

Capitol_Building_Full_View%201.jpg

Dave Roberts contemplates the filibuster and runs pretty exhaustively through the flaws with the conventional thinking on how Democrats might effectively respond to Republican obstructionism. And I think he's right -- no amount of grandstanding will really work. The good news is that there's a perfectly workable solution to this problem:

At issue is a seldom-used, complicated and highly controversial parliamentary maneuver in which Republicans could seek a ruling from the chamber's presiding officer, presumably Vice President Cheney, that filibusters against judicial nominees are unconstitutional. Under this procedure, it would take only a simple majority or 51 votes to uphold the ruling -- far easier for the 55-member GOP majority to get than the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster or the 67 votes needed to change the rules under normal procedures.

Republicans wound up not doing that because of the dumb "Gang of 14" deal. Democrats could do the same thing (you'd need to pick a time when a Democrat, rather than Cheney, was presiding) except instead of "filibusters against judicial nominees" you'd just rule that filibusters in general are unconstitutional. The rules of the Senate aren't written in stone -- they've changed several times over the years. The filibuster rule, though obviously useful when the political party I prefer is in the minority, isn't a procedure with some strong claims of universal justice. Democrats should scrap it.

And they should scrap it this term. It'd be a huge controversy. But the controversy would die down a bit as attention moved to veto battles and the presidential campaign. That way, by 2009 it'll be a fait accompli and the GOP minority won't be able to scuttle the new administration. It's not going to happen, but it's what ought to be done.

Presented by

Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In