Friday, January 15, 2010

The unconstitutionality of the filibuster

Thomas Geoghegan, who is a lawyer, wrote a very interesting piece for the New York Times arguing that the filibuster is unconstitutional. Read it here and see if you agree with me that he makes a strong case.

There is a procedural problem in doing something about it, because the courts are reluctant to intervene in the internal operations of a co-equal branch of government. However such interventions have occasionally taken place, so we can't rule it out.

As a recent article picked up by CommonDreams suggests, some of the more outlandish parts of the health legislation sausage currently being ground out by Congress resulted from the need to buy up enough votes in the Senate to avoid a filibuster preventing enactment.

As the CommonDreams article notes, if the Republican wins Tuesday's election in Massachusetts, as now seems at least possible, the GOP will have enough votes to prevent the Senate from even voting on a final compromise with the House now being negotiated. In that event, says the author, Democrats might resort to the "nuclear option," passing the legislation in the form of a budget reconciliation measure which under Senate rules only requires 51 votes, one of which could be supplied by Vice President Biden. And, he says, this might allow most of the sweetheart deals (like the one involving Nebraska) to be deleted.

This is getting interesting. Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are e-mailed to me. I will post excerpts from those I think will most interest readers.