Saturday, November 23, 2013

Filibuster Flip-Flops

Gary L. Bauer
American Values

As the saying goes, where you stand depends on where you sit. Years ago, when they were in the minority and were routinely blocking George W. Bush's judicial nominees, liberals were staunch defenders of the Senate's filibuster rules and traditions. When conservatives considered invoking the "nuclear option," the left howled with outrage. Consider these few examples:

    Harry Reid in April 2005: "The threat to change Senate rules is a raw abuse of power and will destroy the very checks and balances our Founding Fathers put in place to prevent absolute power by any one branch of government."

    Harry Reid in May 2005: "The filibuster is not a scheme and it certainly isn't new. … It's part of the fabric of this institution we call the Senate. …the filibuster has been employed hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times. It's been employed on legislative matters, it's been employed on procedural matters relating to the president's nominations for Cabinet and sub-Cabinet posts, and it's been used on judges for all those years. …Senators have used the filibuster to stand up to popular presidents, to block legislation, and, yes, even, as I've stated, to stall executive nominees. The roots of the filibuster are found in the Constitution and in our own rules."

    Then-Senator Joe Biden in May 2005: "This is the single most significant vote any one of us will cast… This nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power. It is a fundamental power grab by the majority party... designed to change the reading of the Constitution…It is nothing more or nothing less."

    Then-Senator Obama in April 2005: "Mr. President, I rise today to urge my colleagues to think about the implications of what has been called the nuclear option... [I]f the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness, and the gridlock will only get worse. …

    "I fear the partisan atmosphere in Washington will be poisoned to the point where no one will be able to agree on anything. That does not serve anybody's best interest, and it certainly is not what the patriots who founded this democracy had in mind."