Chris's Rants

Monday, May 16, 2005

Must read

Steve Clemons:
Ackerman makes the important and correct argument that there is an attempted radicalization of institutions and methods right now by the far right that could threaten the system of checks and balances that makes America's template of democracy work.
I can't emphasise enough that you read the article (reprinted with permission).

Oh heck, here's a taste:
Nevertheless, the Republican leadership wants change before the Rehnquist vacancy opens. Mr Frist plans this week to make a pending judicial nomination into a test case. He is counting on vice-president Dick Cheney, as president of the Senate, to declare the key Senate rules unconstitutional, and to end debate on the basis of a simple majority vote. Unsurprisingly, he is having trouble rounding up 51 votes to support this manoeuvre, leading Mr Cheney to offer further assistance. As Senate president he has the power to break tie votes and has said he would cast the deciding ballot to destroy the rules.

There is more at stake than sheer lawlessness. The filibuster permits the Senate to play a moderating role within the constitutional system of checks and balances. Except when there is a decisive landslide, it requires the majority party to moderate its initiatives to gain the support of at least a few minority Senators. Mr Cheney's role in destroying the moderating role of the Senate is particularly problematic. For two centuries, the Senate president has been the pre-eminent guardian of the rules. Thomas Jefferson first put them in writing when he served as vice-president. His aim was to prevent political manipulation by the presiding officer, and Senate presidents have consistently served as impartial arbiters. In breaking with this tradition, Mr Cheney has a clear conflict of interests. As president of the Senate, he owes the institution fidelity to its rules, but as vice-president to Mr Bush, he wants to see his boss's judicial nominations confirmed. By allowing his executive interest to trump his duty to the Senate, Mr Cheney is undercutting the separation of powers.
Darth Cheney makes my skin crawl. Sen. Frist is the Jar-Jar Binks of the Senate.


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