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19th Century Schizoid Men


Southern reactionaries have suddenly decided they’re not so keen on the Madisonian institutional rules that have historically served their interests so well. Can’t they make up their minds about what constitutional order they want? According to Dr. Bill “Kitty Kevorkian” Frist, speaking at the Federalist Society:

Dr. Frist told the members of the Federalist Society here that Democrats were abusing the filibuster by extending it to the Senate’s role of confirming presidential nominees. “This filibuster is nothing less than a formula for tyranny by the minority,” he said, adding that if Democrats use procedural tactics to block more nominees, they “will have effectively seized from the president the power to appoint judges.”

Now one could quibble with some of these arguments. As to the idea that Democrats invented the idea of filibustering judicial nominees, Abe Fortas says hello! As to the idea that the filibuster takes away the presidential power to “appoint” judges, there is alas no such thing; the president nominates, and the Senate approves according to whatever rules it sees fit. It’s a collaborative, not unilateral, process.

But, hey, I’m willing to compromise with Dr. Frist’s sudden majoritarian spirit. So how about we end the filibuster rule, and New York gets three Senators and California six for every one Tennessee gets, the only defensible distribution if we’re going to majority rule. Deal?

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