Thursday, April 06, 2017

Prepare to be shocked

The New York Times had a certain opinion in 2013 on judicial filibusters: "Democracy returns to the Senate."
In a 52-to-48 vote that substantially altered the balance of power in Washington, the Senate changed its most infuriating rule and effectively ended the filibuster on executive and judicial appointments. From now on, if any senator tries to filibuster a presidential nominee, that filibuster can be stopped with a simple majority, not the 60-vote requirement of the past. That means a return to the democratic process of giving nominees an up-or-down vote, allowing them to be either confirmed or rejected by a simple majority. 
The only exceptions are nominations to the Supreme Court, for which a filibuster would still be allowed. But now that the Senate has begun to tear down undemocratic procedures, the precedent set on Thursday will increase the pressure to end those filibusters, too.
Hooray for Democracy!  So you may be puzzled at yesterday's editorial: "The Supreme Court as a partisan tool."
What matters, of course, is not some arcane voting process in the Senate. What matters is that Americans believe they are governed by law, not by whatever political party manages to stack the Supreme Court. That is what Mitch McConnell has driven the Senate to put at risk — a very great risk indeed — and it may, in the end, fall to the court itself to find a way to rise above the steadily encroaching tide of factionalism.
Awww.  So much partisanship and arcane voting processes.  The NYT made sure to include a throwaway line: "Some of the blame rests on the Democrats."  In 2013 they were preserving democracy while in 2017 they're resisting the forces of factionalism.

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