I participated in a conference call with Senate Minority Leader Reid Monday. The topic was the Republican “nuclear option” of not allowing filibusters anymore.
Senator Reid said something that I don’t think the public is being made sufficiently aware of. He said that the Senate Parliamentarian has stated that this idea the Republicans have of changing the rules of the Senate to disallow filibusters of judicial nominations is itself against the rules of the Senate! (For one thing, the rule change itself could be filibustered, so the Republican insistence that 51 votes is enough to change the rules is against the rules.)
But the Republicans are saying no, they are just going to change the rule, regardless of what the Senate rules allow or do not allow. Just because they can, and no one can stop them.
I think the implications of this are disturbing, to say the least. The Republicans are saying they just will not follow the rules of the Senate, because they have the power to say this, and that’s that. Rules will no longer apply. And as I understand it the Democrats can’t take this to the courts, because separation of powers prevents the courts from getting involved with the internal rules of the Senate. (And if they could take it before the courts, would judges appointed under the Republican rules hear the case…?)
So this is a bigger deal than just a battle over appointing a few judges. This will be a full-blown Constitutional crisis, well beyond the 2000 Supreme Court decision to set aside the election and appoint Bush as President. This will be about the Republicans saying they will just make up the rules as they go along, because they have the power to do so.
My question is, how is this different from a coup, takeover, whatever you want to call it? I ask that question in all seriousness and I hope we can have a discussion in the comments, because I don’t know the answer. I know I get worked up over things like this (I mean, I’m a blogger, right?) and I would like someone to calm me down and tell me how this is not a takeover. Leave a comment. Reassure me. Tell me not to worry.
Meanwhile, watch your backs.
Update – From The Carpetbagger Report has more on what this is about,
James Dobson did a lot of his usual shtick at “Justice Sunday,” railing against the judiciary, lambasting the culture that’s made him wealthy, demanding better results from the Republican Party, etc. But there was one comment from the weekend stood out for me.
“Five black-robed justices on the Supreme Court can tell us how it’s gonna be,” Dobson said. “They’re not gods. They don’t do everything right…. For 43 years, the court has been on a campaign to limit religious liberty.”
[. . .] This is significant because it speaks volumes about the far-right agenda. Focus on the Family and their followers in Congress aren’t just defending religion in the public square; they want the government to literally be responsible for writing and dictating prayers for all public school children. They want the biggest of all possible governments: the state as religious instructor. To do otherwise is “to limit religious liberty.”
Calling the Supreme Court “black-robed justices” and mocking the concept of existing law… Make no mistake, these people mean it.