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You have undoubtedly seen by now that Senator Dick Durbin is now ready to try to kill the filibuster, not five years after praising the practice to the skies. You are also undoubtedly not surprised. But this particular bit below from Durbin is really quite interesting as an example of defiance against the tyranny of the majority: it’s an absolute pity that the senior Senator from Illinois has just demonstrated that he never actually meant a word of it.
I don’t believe I was elected to the Senate to be a rubber stamp. I believe I was elected and took the oath of office to uphold this Constitution, to stand up for the precedents and values of Congress and our Nation. We need to have, in our judiciary, independence and fairness. We need to have men and women on the bench who will work to protect our individual rights, despite the intimidation of special interest groups, despite the intimidation of Members of Congress. They need to have the courage to stand up for what they believe, in good conscience, to be the rights and freedoms of Americans.
I speak, as a Senator on the Democratic side, and tell you that our 45 Members will not be intimidated. We will stand together. We understand these lifetime appointments to the bench should be subject to close scrutiny, to evaluation, and to a decision as to why they are prepared to serve and serve in a way to protect the rights and aspirations of ordinary Americans.
The filibuster, which requires that 60 Senators come together to resolve the most controversial issues, that rule in the Senate, forces compromise. It forces the Republicans to reach across the aisle and bring in some Democrats when they have very controversial legislation or controversial nominees. It forces bipartisanship–something that tells us, at the end of the day, we will have more moderate men and women who will serve us in the judiciary. Those who would attack and destroy the institution of the filibuster are attacking the very force within the Senate that creates compromise and bipartisanship.
Those who are forcing this nuclear option on the Senate are not just breaking the rules to win, but they want to break the rules to win every time.
Mind you, Durbin’s hypocrisy on the filibuster is mostly about trying to look good – for given values of ‘good’ – when it comes time to pick the next Senate Majority Leader. The odds of Harry Reid holding that position in 2011 are currently not so much ‘slim’ as they are ‘withered.’
PS: Also: “I don’t believe I was elected to the Senate to be a rubber stamp.” Interesting, because I don’t believe that you were elected to the Senate to re-segregate the DC school system on behalf of the teachers’ unions, either. Yet there you were.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.