By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
I received a query from the office of a lawmaker in D.C. asking for some clarification from me in response to a Tweet I had sent in which I expressed agreement with Sen. Reid’s call for filibuster reform, but opposition to his specific proposal.
I dashed off a reply to articulate some of my convictions regarding the use of the filibuster. My point quite simply is that the filibuster as it currently exists frustrates and impedes the process of a representative form of government, since it is used to block the will of the majority. Here is my reply:
“I support filibuster reform for the same reasons the GOP did in 2005. But the kind of reform I believe is called for is to preserve the right of senators to engage in unlimited but actual debate. Sen. Reid’s proposal continues the tradition of a silent, pro forma filibuster, which I believe is contrary to principles of a republican form of government. There are some other equally offensive things in his proposal that make it a non-starter.
“I believe the opportunity for debate on a piece of legislation must be preserved until every senator who wishes to contribute to the debate has been able to argue his case. But it must be actual debate. If he wants to talk all night he can. But once everyone has made his argument, then I believe it’s time for the issue to come to a vote. I’m happy to include a provision where debate can be terminated by a supermajority vote, and 60 sounds about right. That would mean that debate would only be cut off if it was clear that full debate had taken place and senators were just stalling for time. Then it’s time to vote. The only supermajorities that should be required for actual legislative or senatorial decisions are the ones specified in the Constitution (confirmations, treaties, etc.)
“I’m sympathetic to the concerns that Republicans have at this stage. They are identical to the ones the Democrats articulated in 2005. There is no question that removing the current form of the filibuster would reduce the ability of the minority to block offensive legislation. But that’s why elections are important. In a republican form of government, we make decisions by majority vote. If Republicans don’t like being in the minority, there is something they can do about that in 2014.
“I think removing the pro forma filibuster would actually be good for the Republican party, as it would add needed urgency to every senatorial election. Perhaps the GOP would have been more inclined to come to the aid of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock if they needed 51 votes in the Senate rather than just 41.”
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)