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Supporting the Filibuster

by TChris

The filibuster protects the minority party from the tyranny of the majority party, and Republicans did not hesitate to use it (most famously, to keep Abe Fortas off the Supreme Court) when they were out of power.

Republican senators, including Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Mike DeWine of Ohio, used a filibuster in 1995 to block President Bill Clinton's nominee for surgeon general. Bill Frist, now the Senate majority leader, supported a filibuster of a Clinton appeals court nomination.

But now that Republicans command a Senate majority, some of the same senators view the filibuster as antithetical to democracy. Frist now considers the filibuster of a judicial confirmation to be "intolerable." Apart from being a hypocrite, he's wrong.

The Republicans see the filibuster as an annoying obstacle. But it is actually one of the checks and balances that the founders, who worried greatly about concentration of power, built into our system of government. It is also, right now, the main means by which the 48 percent of Americans who voted for John Kerry can influence federal policy. People who call themselves conservatives should find a way of achieving their goals without declaring war on one of the oldest traditions in American democracy.

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