Nuke it

LA Times Editorial:

These are confusing days in Washington. Born-again conservative Christians who strongly want to see President Bush's judicial nominees voted on are leading the charge against the Senate filibuster, and liberal Democrats are born-again believers in that reactionary, obstructionist legislative tactic. Practically every big-name liberal senator you can think of derided the filibuster a decade ago but now sees the error of his or her ways and will go to amusing lengths to try to convince you that the change of heart is explained by something deeper than the mere difference between being in the majority and being in the minority.

At the risk of seeming dull or unfashionable for not getting our own intellectual makeover, we still think judicial candidates nominated by a president deserve an up-or-down vote in the Senate. We hardly see eye to eye with the far right on social issues, and we oppose some of these judicial nominees, but we urge Republican leaders to press ahead with their threat to nuke the filibuster. The so-called nuclear option entails a finding by a straight majority that filibusters are inappropriate in judicial confirmation battles.

But the Senate shouldn't stop with filibusters over judges. It should strive to nuke the filibuster for all legislative purposes.

The filibuster debate is a stark reminder of the unprincipled and results-oriented nature of politics, as senators readily switch sides for tactical advantage. Politicians' lack of consistency on fundamental matters — the debate over the proper balance of power between Washington and the states would be another case in point — is far more corrosive to the health of American democracy and the rule of law than any number of Bush- appointed judges could ever be. For one thing, it validates public wariness about politicians professing deep convictions.
The filibuster is an instrument for thwarting democracy. The majority should get rid of the whole rule.


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