Skip to main content

Every Senator takes an oath upon election and prior to serving in the Senate.  That oath states:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
Source.

So while I am glad that the fight for filibuster reform continues, your comments on the matter have been troubling, to say the least.

You stated:

As the majority leader, I intend to run the Senate with respect for the rules, for the minority rights that the rules protects. [...] I'll do my part as majority leader to foster respect for the rules and traditions of our great institution. I say here, Mr. President, on this floor that I love so much, that I believe in the Golden Rule. I am going to treat my Republican colleagues the way that I expect to be treated. There's no "gotcha," no "get even." I will do everything that I can to preserve the rule and the tradtions of this institution that I love.
No man can serve two masters, Senator, and no Senator can serve both the United States Constitution and the currently broken Senate Rules.  You have to choose.  More importantly, you already chose.  

I previously wrote about how the Senate was designed to operate as a Constitutional check on majority rule.  But perhaps I didn't put enough into when I wrote that the Constitution was not designed to protect political parties, it was designed to protect people.  

The protection of the Senate minority is a bipartisan affair.  There's not a lot of space between Reid and McConnell on this one, because no one is considering what ought to be plain: the Senate Filibuster is unconstitutional.

Not yet convinced?  Here's what the Constitution has to say about protecting minority party rights in the Senate:

.
And here's what's in the first ten amendments to the Constitution, which were passed to eliminate concerns that "We the People" had with the original version and have become collectively known as the Bill of Rights:
.
As detailed better elsewhere by others, the drafters of the Constitution hated the idea of government by super-majority.  

And what did they think of political parties?  Well, the Constitutional Convention was chaired by George Washington.  After serving as the first United States President, what did he say about political parties?  Perhaps he thought it was important to protect them in the system of government, and safeguard their rights?

All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle [of self-Government], and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Of course, Jefferson and Adams had already faced off and the country was split into competing factionalism anyway, despite Washington's Farewell Letter.

One more point, on all of this.  Here's the dire prophesy of Tom Coburn:

“I think the backlash will be severe,” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the conservative firebrand, said sternly. “If you take away minority rights, which is what you’re doing because you’re an ineffective leader, you’ll destroy the place. And if you destroy the place, we’ll do what we have to do to fight back.”
You know who else had the filibuster, but abolished it?  The United States House of Representatives, in 1842.  Last I checked, it's still there.  

So Senator Reid, as I said, you must make a choice.  Where do you stand?  With the design of government chosen by the People and embodied in the Constitution for over 200 years, or with the 20th century filibuster?  With the American voters, who have sent 100 Senators to Washington D.C. in order to pass legislation, or with Senate rules and tradition? Remember when you're picking - you swore an oath.  

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  I am failing to see the conflict. n/t (7+ / 0-)

    The 47% also "pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more" but when Romney does it he thinks it's a virtue, while when they do it, he thinks they are deadbeats.

    by jsfox on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 10:11:13 AM PST

    •  Reid is trapped (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rmx2630, Kevskos

      Between serving the Senate rules and traditions (the filibuster) and serving the Constitution (which has no place for the filibuster, and spells out when votes should take more than a majority).

      •  Actually the Constitution says no such thing. (0+ / 0-)

        The Constitution clearly states that the Senate gets to set it's own rules. To have or not have a filibuster falls within the guidance of Article 1 Section 5

        Article I, section 5, "Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings."

        The 47% also "pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more" but when Romney does it he thinks it's a virtue, while when they do it, he thinks they are deadbeats.

        by jsfox on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 01:21:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The proper use of rules (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MT Clarity, vcmvo2, TLS66, Wisper

    in the Senate and the House should reflect the Constitution and laws of the land -- where minorities generally cannot be just steamrolled by the majority if things work as they should.

    Reid is not trying to set up a dictatorial construct which completely ignores the minority.  I wouldn't want it any other way.  His is, therefore, honoring his oath to the Constitution and his duty as majority leader to make progress on legislation that will benefit the entire country.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 10:16:45 AM PST

    •  We have majority rule in America (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos

      When a majority of the people elect a majority of the legislators, then they get to pass bills.

      That's not dictatorship, that's democracy.  

      •  Tyranny of the Majority (0+ / 0-)

        This was a concern dating back to Ancient Greece, who called it "ochlocracy".

        John Adams wrote about it, John Stuart Mill cautioned against it, several of the Federalist Papers speak against it.

        This is exactly why we have super majority requirements built into our system and again, EXACTLY why it requires a super majority to change the rules.

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 11:43:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Senate determines its own rules. Any Senate rules (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wisper

    are constitutional. No matter how stupid or counterproductive they are.

    •  Possibly (0+ / 0-)

      Although that's debated.

      Even if that point is true, though, shouldn't we advocate for the Senate rules that adopt Constitutional design, and advocate against rules which are contrary to that design?

      The filibuster has no place in a democratic government.  The House got rid of it ~170 years ago.  We can get rid of the Senate filibuster too.  

  •  ./yawn (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MT Clarity, Neuroptimalian

    Hyperbole much?

    Your dramatic blank blockquotes missed one key quote from the Constitution.  Which is not wholly unexpected since one of them references the Bill of Rights, which has absolutely nothing about the functions of Congress.  

    So let me add a few block quotes of my own for balance:

    Here is what the US Consittution has to say about who does and doesn't have authority to establish rules for debate in Congress:

    Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.
    or and to parallel, here is what the first 10 amendments which specifically enumerate the fundamental rights of US Citizens have to say about the people's rights to establish the rules of congressional debate:
    .
    Each House can make whatever rules they all agree to.  Not sure if you've been following the Common Cause v. Biden lawsuit that will be argued in DC Court on Dec 10th, but it is trying to make a similar case that you are so stridently screeching and I've spoken with lawyers involved and even THEY know they most likely will get thrown out of court for lack of standing.

    The Senate is CONSTITUTIONALLY allowed to make its own rules and this pervasive unconstitutional institutionally-destructive cancerous windmill at which you are tilting has been on the books in some form for almost a century and in its EXACT current form for 37 years and still the fragile American Republic has not crumbled to its foundation.

    Political problems o' the Day do not always require Constitutional Foundation-shaking adjustments to our entire political system.

    Look, I'm all for Filibuster reform, but get a little perspective man.  Violations of Oaths?  Serving Two Masters? Really?  Parliamentary Rules of Conduct are now a "MASTER"?

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 10:42:16 AM PST

    •  It is crumbling right now (0+ / 0-)

      We haven't had a minority completely committed to obstructionism for the last 37 years.  

      We do now.  Bills go to the Senate to die.  Judicial posts are unfilled.  Cabinet positions are unfilled.  And for what?  A Senate rule that requires a super majority to get anything done being used to make sure nothing is done.

      The Constitution clearly implies that a simple majority should be the standard.  That is what government of the people, by the people, and for the people means.  

      •  Yes. The rule should be changed (0+ / 0-)

        but its not unconstitutional.  The Senate is explicitly allowed to make their own rules.  As is the House.

        The Courts are not going to over-rule them on their own internal process which is written clearly in Art II Sec 5 as "THEIRS TO MAKE AND ENFORCE"

        They will throw this case out just like they did in Raines v Byrd back in 1997.

        And all Reid can do is go back to requiring an active filibuster.  In order to actually remove the filibuster, you would have to actually change the Senate Rules which ....wait for it....  requires a two-thirds vote.  So in order to no longer need 60 votes... you need 67 votes.

        Still.. for the record, I hope he does that.  For transparency if nothing else.  But not because to do otherwise is a treasonous violation of his sword oath of office.

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 11:09:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  They need 50 votes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kevskos

          The Senate has to adopt new rules every new session.  They just need 50, plus a VP tie breaker.

          •  what? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Neuroptimalian

            The current 43 rules have been in effect since 2000. (although the Lobby Reform Act made some changes in 2006)

            Rule XXII states:

            If that question is decided in the affirmative by three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn—except on a measure or motion to amend the Senate rules, in which case the necessary affirmative vote shall be two-thirds of the Senators present and voting—then said measure, motion, or other matter pending before the Senate, or the unfinished business, shall be the unfinished business to the exclusion of all other business until disposed of.

            Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

            by Wisper on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 11:31:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  to be clear (0+ / 0-)

              this is to actually change the formal rules... Reid, as majority leader, can reinterpret the existing rule and classify certain votes as ineligible to filibuster.

              This can be streamlined and THAT can be done with 51 votes... but to REMOVE the filibuster, you would need to edit Rule XXII and that will require 67 votes.  There is no way around that.

              The reforms we are discussing will make the Senate process faster, will stop bills from being filibustered BEFORE debate and will require an active in-person filibuster... but it will still require 60 votes to pass a law.

              Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

              by Wisper on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 11:56:06 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  The GOP will ABOLISH the filibuster the instant (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevskos

    ... they ever get control of the Senate again.

    On orders from ALEC.

    There is hardly anything more certain in politics.

    This nuclear weapon will eventually be used; the only question is who will get to use it first.

    •  and by "get control" (0+ / 0-)

      I assume you mean "elect 67 GOP senators" since you need two-thirds vote to change any Senate Rule.

      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

      by Wisper on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 11:36:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nope, 50+1. (0+ / 0-)

        If they get a voting majority, they will immediately abolish the filibuster.

        •  umm... read the rules? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Neuroptimalian

          From Rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate (which have been in place and unamended since 2000, except for the changes dictated by the new Lobby Reform Act of 2006)

          Without debate, the Presiding Officer shall then submit to the Senate by a yea-and-nay vote the question: "Is it the sense of the Senate that the debate shall be brought to a close?"

          If that question is decided in the affirmative by three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn—except on a measure or motion to amend the Senate rules, in which case the necessary affirmative vote shall be two-thirds of the Senators present and voting—then said measure, motion, or other matter pending before the Senate, or the unfinished business, shall be the unfinished business to the exclusion of all other business until disposed of.

          This one rule makes clear that a) 3/5 majority is needed to bring debate to a close (cloture) and b) no rule changes can happen without 2/3 majority.

          Reid (or any majority leader) can over-rule the chair's interpretation of a rule for things that are not spelled out explicitly (like, does a motion to bring a bill up for debate require 60 votes?) but to change the ACTUAL RULES... you need 67 votes.

          Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

          by Wisper on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 02:11:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What the hell makes you think the GOP will... (0+ / 0-)

            ... follow any rules it doesn't like.

            What do you think they have done in every state legislature they have taken over?

            They get rid of all procedural or administrative delaying rules and RAM, RAM, RAM.

            It's all part of the agenda as ordered by ALEC.

            If the GOP gets a Senate Majority in the future, the second the roll call is taken they will get rid of the filibuster.

  •  Your diary and opinions are troll verbage (0+ / 0-)

    Here is what we need again not the bullshit I see be pushed above:

    1964-Present

    June 10, 1964
    Civil Rights Filibuster Ended

    Hubert Humphrey (D-MN)

    At 9:51 on the morning of June 10, 1964, Senator Robert C. Byrd completed an address that he had begun 14 hours and 13 minutes earlier. The subject was the pending Civil Rights Act of 1964, a measure that occupied the Senate for 57 working days, including six Saturdays. A day earlier, Democratic Whip Hubert Humphrey, the bill's manager, concluded he had the 67 votes required at that time to end the debate.

    The Civil Rights Act provided protection of voting rights; banned discrimination in public facilities—including private businesses offering public services—such as lunch counters, hotels, and theaters; and established equal employment opportunity as the law of the land.

    Sorry but nothing in this dairy makes the least bit of sense.

    Forcing the Minority Party to stand up, hold the Senate floor for hours, days or months to block a vote on a bill is the only way to get this country back to its greatness. The GOP is the enemy of America.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site