Monday, April 18, 2005

Democrats & Republican Government

Mort Kondrake has a good point.
"There is a way out of all this: Have real debate on each nominee. If they are really 'extreme,' as Democrats claim, let them prove it."
Democrat Senators are employing the filibuster rules of the Senate to prevent floor votes on several judicial appointments by President Bush. With respect to these appointments, not only is the Senate failing to vote for or against the appointment, but the Senate is even failing to have open debate in this most august of deliberative bodies. Is this republican government?

I have to ask what the Democrat party is afraid of? Is the Democrat party afraid of debating judicial appointments it asserts are "extreme?" Is it afraid of explaining in open public debate on the Senate floor what it means by "extreme?" Perhaps it sees too much risk that what Democrats think is "extreme" is instead widely accepted in the body politic? Perhaps it is even worse, perhaps the Democrats don't respect and value republican government? Perhaps they would prefer not to have the majority in the Senate express its views in support of President Bush's judicial nominees? If we respect and trust our republican form of government, then wouldn't we want open public debate, followed by a Senate vote of each of our Senate representatives, and then embrace the outcome of our republican government processes?

Is there a reason to require a super majority vote in general? Perhaps the requirement of a super majority vote provides some protection for the rights of those in the minority. This might make some sense if the issue was, for example, whether government should tax wealth. If those with wealth are a minority in number, then requiring a super majority vote for passage of such a tax measure would provide greater protection for those in the minority than would be the case under a simple majority vote. The super majority might reduce "tyranny of the majority."

There seems to be a flip side, which would be "tyranny of a minority." A minority of individuals might prevent the majority from acting in the broader interest of the community. When the issue involves something like wealth taxation, the super majority rule protects the individual rights of the minority while at the same time it does not really harm the rights of those in the majority.

If this makes some sense, then how might we look at the Senate Democrats using the filibuster rule to stop specific judicial appointments by President Bush. Would it be fair to argue that this harms the rights of those in the majority? It seems to me that each Senator has a constitutional duty, and perhaps this means also a right, to publicly vote for or against judicial appointments by the President. I know that I want to have each of my Senators vote and represent my interests in the matter of judicial appointments. On the flip side, if the Senate democrats end their efforts to use the filibuster rule, then they have given up no rights, nor have they acted in a way that gives up the rights of any of their constituents. Senators have the right and the responsibility to represent their consituents by voting on judicial appointments, it seems to me that no Senator has the right to a specific result.

Does this make sense?

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