Home > Federal Power > US Senate loses a tool that ensures minority opinions are heard and debated

US Senate loses a tool that ensures minority opinions are heard and debated

November 21, 2013

cherrypie_Nuclear_warning_signFor years the filibuster has been used in the Senate as a means for minority groups and opinions to be heard. This tool was purposely added to the Senate procedural rules to force debate and ensure the Senate does not legislate by populist tyranny of the majority. That is how the House of Representatives works. The filibuster as used by the Senate was used to make sure all parties and viewpoints must be heard and make each Senator work harder. Nobody ever said legislation was supposed to be easy. That is now changing with the ‘nuclear option’ having been used by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Senator Reid took that action today because a judicial nomination was being held up. The Republican side of this issue questioned whether these additional judges were actually needed. It was not just the nominations that were being filibustered; it was in fact whether these appointments were necessary. Personally I side with the Republicans on this issue. These nominations appear to be President Obama ensuring the DC District court is stacked with progressive judges. But, even if I disagreed with the Republicans on this issue I believe it was disastrous for Reid to take this action.

Before Reid used the ‘nuclear option’ all motions to proceed (end debate) on a bill needed 60 votes. By requiring 60 votes it helped to ensure the majority in the Senate could not simply do anything they want. Now after the nuclear option only a simple majority will be required. That may seem reasonable. Yet look at how the House of Representatives works. In that body Boehner completely controls everything. There are no tools, such a filibuster, in the House that can ensure minority viewpoints are heard and debated upon. The Senate will now follow this method on nominations. Going forward I is not hard to imagine Reid will make this change for legislation as well.

It is sad to see the DC Democrats drop their historic championship for minorities. What DC Democrats now call “obstruction” they used to call ‘voice of the minorities’. With this nuclear option enacted Reid can simply pass any nomination presented by Obama no matter how political or unneeded that nominee is. Obama and the Senate Democrats can do whatever they want in nominations and there is nothing that can be done to stop them. For the Democrats cheering over this move just think a few years in the future when the balance of power is likely to change. Do you want the opposing side having this same power? Personally I don’t believe ANY side should have that power. But then I care about minority opinions..

PS: I almost forgot: Two months ago I asked three of the South Dakota Republicans campaigning for the US Senate what they thought about filibusters.

PPS: I also talked the Democrat US Senate candidate Rick Weiland a couple of months ago. At that time he said he would support Reid in using the nuclear option.

  1. Drew
    November 21, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    I find it rather alarming that the Majority party would trample the rights of the minority party, in order to pass their agenda. “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” Ben Franklin
    In this case the filibuster is Liberty contesting the vote.

    • Ken Santema
      November 22, 2013 at 10:34 am

      Exactly! Ironically I was cheering on Senator Reid back when fought against Republicans using the nuclear option. Now liberty has no side to depend upon in the Senate.

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