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View Diary: Four reasons to feel proud of, and excited by, the filibuster reform fight (274 comments)

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  •  I think you're reading too much into that (0+ / 0-)

    Federalist 58

    In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power would be transferred to the minority. Were the defensive privilege limited to particular cases, an interested minority might take advantage of it to screen themselves from equitable sacrifices to the general weal, or, in particular emergencies, to extort unreasonable indulgences. Lastly, it would facilitate and foster the baneful practice of secessions; a practice which has shown itself even in States where a majority only is required; a practice subversive of all the principles of order and regular government; a practice which leads more directly to public convulsions, and the ruin of popular governments, than any other which has yet been displayed among us.
    And Federalist 22 from Alexander Hamilton whom was basically the father of the Senate.
    But this is not all: what at first sight may seem a remedy, is, in reality, a poison. To give a minority a negative upon the majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is requisite to a decision), is, in its tendency, to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser. Congress, from the nonattendance of a few States, have been frequently in the situation of a Polish diet, where a single veto has been sufficient to put a stop to all their movements. A sixtieth part of the Union, which is about the proportion of Delaware and Rhode Island, has several times been able to oppose an entire bar to its operations. This is one of those refinements which, in practice, has an effect the reverse of what is expected from it in theory. The necessity of unanimity in public bodies, or of something approaching towards it, has been founded upon a supposition that it would contribute to security. But its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of the government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority.
    Both are rejecting a Supermajority Congress which is what you are attempting to state was always the purpose with regard to the Senate. This is well argued by Emmet Bondurant(pdf). The Senate is there to give the minority some representation but not to overrule the majority by causing the need for a Supermajority to pass everything which is where we are now with the filibuster.

    As he points out there's also a SCOTUS case to argue against the Senate making this rule in United States v. Ballin, the Court held that while “the Constitution empowers each house to determine its rules of proceedings,” it “may not by its rules ignore constitutional restraints or violate fundamental rights.”

    I don't negotiate grand bargains with deficit terrorists!

    by priceman on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 09:01:28 PM PST

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    •  no, I think Madison (0+ / 0-)

      spoke the simple truth. The Senate, by definition (giving low pop states equal status) is an undemocratic institution. Hamilton lost on this in the Constitutional Congress and arguments in the Federalists Papers were a losing cause. Many ills have come from this (think Henry Clay's influence) and we've been living with it ever since.

      I think it's a fight worth waging but the last real dent in it was back in 1917, when cloture was first introduced ( is a lucid and brief description of what came before and what came after). Everything since has just been a nibbling at the edges. 67, 60, whatever. It doesn't matter the number, the Senate is doing what it has always done - be a bulwark for the empowered class. Oligarchs, if you prefer that label. Me, I just prefer to call them the monied.

      47 is the new 51!

      by nickrud on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 11:57:17 PM PST

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    •  oh, and about the 58th (0+ / 0-)

      remember the audience: a high pop state that needed reassurance that their influence would still be felt, proportionally..

      47 is the new 51!

      by nickrud on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 12:02:52 AM PST

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    •  And finally :) (0+ / 0-)

      I'm not arguing in favor of keeping the filibuster - just arguing that the filibuster is a consequence of what the Senate was intended to be.

      47 is the new 51!

      by nickrud on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 12:04:18 AM PST

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