Filibustering the History of Filibustering

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Our story thus far: While the George W. Bush is busy holding hands with dreamy Crown Prince Abdullah (not that there's anything wrong with that), the Democrats continue to threaten to filibuster the Republican president's judicial appointees.

Miffed, Republicans threaten to "go nuclear" (a subtle attack on Saudi reluctance to guarantee cheap oil?) and change the rules governing debate and votes in the Senate–a move that would allow for a simple up-or-down vote on judicial appointees in the World's Greatest (and Mostly Anonymous) Deliberative Body.

But the nuclear option is wildly unpopular with the all-knowing, all-seeing American public. Indeed, a recent poll finds:

But by a 2 to 1 ratio, the public rejected easing Senate rules in a way that would make it harder for Democratic senators to prevent final action on Bush's nominees. Even many Republicans were reluctant to abandon current Senate confirmation procedures: Nearly half opposed any rule changes, joining eight in 10 Democrats and seven in 10 political independents, the poll found.

Whole results here.

I have to say that I really don't care about filibuster rules per se. Or, for that matter, political squabbling over judicial appointees. All's fair in this game. When they had the chance, the Republicans obstructed President Clinton's picks as much as they could. The Dems, in a minority, are doing the same to a second-term pres with sinking ratings (currently at 47 percent for overall rating, matching his all-time low) and a Social Security privatization plan that's selling about as well as Gigli DVDs at the local Blockbuster franchise.

But what bugs me about the Great Filibuster Debate of '05 (remember it now, because we will have certainly forgotten all about it by the end of the year) is the absolute lack of context on the key issue: Debate rules in the Senate, which are discussed as if they were handed down to Moses by Zeus written in cunieform from high atop Mt. Fuji. As this old Fox News story from 2003 suggests, the truth is a little more mundane.

The filibuster is an attempt to forestall votes on legislation by invoking the Senate's willingness to engage in long-winded, never-ending, self-aggrandizing "debate." (This was not always simply the privilege of senators; "in Congress' early years, representatives as well as senators could use the filibuster technique." )

The first senatorial filibuster dates back only to 1841 and legislation to curtail them by having a two-thirds majority tell their august colleagues to shut the hell up dates back to 1917, when Woodrow "He Kept Us Out of War" Wilson wanted to get in on the action in World War I. Wilson–a virulent racist, by the way–pushed "Rule 22," which ended the era of unlimited debate (though, as West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd reminds us every time he opens his trap, nothing has ended the era of Castro-like senatorial bloviation).

The requirement of two-thirds of senators voting to end debate (i.e., "cloture") was reduced to three-fifths (60) in 1975.

GOP senators want the new simple majority rule to apply only to judicial nominees. Constitutionally, each chamber of Congress gets to set their rules on this sort of thing, so it should be within Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and his usual gang of idiots to force through the change. It may well be unpopular and it may well never actually be put into action (the "nuclear option" is at least two years old but like the H-bomb itself, has never been used). But it involves something less than the very heavens and earth shaking.

And I suspect a deal will be cut before anything changes. As the tonsorially challenged yet influential Democratic senator from the small state of Delaware, Joe Biden, recently told The Washington Post:

"I think we should compromise and say to them that we're willing to—of the seven judges—we'll let a number of them go through, the two most extreme not go through, and put off this [rule-change] vote."

As with all too much in D.C., this is likely to end not with a bang but with a series of whimpers.

NEXT: Detective Work

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  1. It’s a hard call. I like the filibuster because anything that adds to senatorial gridlock is a good thing. However, I’d like to see some strict constructionist judges confirmed.

  2. , were you saying something? Oh, right, Philly Busters. Well, being from Boston I support anything that diminishes the power of Philly.

    Which is to really say: excellent post and spot on.

    Oh, and I love it when you use the word “bloviation”. As words go it has a certain porno feel to it.

  3. As much as I enjoy the simplistic beauty of an orator reciting the phone book, I’m almost giddy at the prospect of Dems shutting down the Senate if the nukular option is invoked.

    A hard call indeed.

  4. As much as I enjoy the simplistic beauty of an orator reciting the phone book

    They haven’t had to do that for years. Now they can just table legislation without actually stalling it, so our poor widdle senators don’t get a sore throat.

    I think the filibuster in all its guises is unconstitutional, but philosophically I don’t mind anything that holds up legislation. Holding up judges that way, I don’t like so much. What the Dems have done is made it so every Supreme Court justice confirmation from now until the end of time will be an ugly partisan battle. Judges have been held up by majorities before, but now even the minority party gets a veto on judges.

  5. Please Nick, don’t ever bring up an ABC/WaPo poll as evidence of anything.

  6. bendover,

    I don’t think there’s necessarily something wrong with the ABC/WaPo pollsters, but I do think the wording of the question matters bigtime in this one.

    People fear change. If they ask “Should the Senate rules be changed” people would say no. If they ask “Should Democrats change tradition and use the filibuster on a judicial nominee,” I bet the public would say no to that too. I wonder what percentage of the population even knows what a filibuster is.

  7. Change tradition? What about Abe Fortas? What about James Garfield’s nominees?

    You’d probably get the results you’d want if you added “…and shoot a puppy in the head,” but that doesn’t make ramming Bush’s judges through any more popular.

  8. Okay, maybe I’m totally missing something here, but wouldn’t this come back and bite the Republicans in the ass when they become the minority again? Or do these douchebags think the party will go forever?

  9. politicians think 2 years at a time. anything more and the space alien which sits in their brainstem gets cranky.

  10. Never heard anything about James Garfield’s nominees. I’ll give you Fortas, although what was filibustered there was actually his elevation to Chief Justice; he was already on the Supreme Court.

  11. Let me see if I have this right; the Senate wants to stop working, and there are people here complaining? Hell, I say the Democrats should fillibuster every piece of legislation from now until 2008. As long as they’re talking, they’re not ruining things.

  12. Okay, maybe I’m totally missing something here, but wouldn’t this come back and bite the Republicans in the ass when they become the minority again? Or do these douchebags think the party will go forever?

    Sure it will. The Democratic filibuster will come back to bite them in the ass too. But it’s somewhat of a prisoner’s dilemma, isn’t it? If the Republicans or Democrats don’t do what they are doing now, what’s to say the other side will grant them the same courtesy later?

  13. A couple of quick questions:

    The Dems aren’t really even filibustering (in the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington style) are they, aren’t they just threatening to filibuster?

    After they change the rule and get the judges confirmed, could they just change the rule back?

  14. Government will always do the wrong thing. Do I want it fast or slow?
    I’ll take fast. It’s more interesting. Besides I don’t have many more years left for dilly-dallying.

  15. As I understand it the Reptilocans want to change the filibuster rules only as they apply to presidential appointments.

    To do so they are trying to invoke some “historical tradition” of Senate harmony with the executive, which as joe has demonstrated never existed. I also am not aware of Garfield’s appointments, but I assume it was Southern democrats blocking appointments on “states rights” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) grounds. Political alliances may realign, but politics stays the same. Now that’s tradition.

    Of course, when the democrats return to majority status, they will be able to use the change to prevent the Republicans from blocking their prez’s nominees. But that wouldn’t be a problem coz they, like, never, blocked any dem prez’s nominees, did they? did they? huh, huh..:)

  16. I thought this whole thing was about the Republicans, having gained control of two branches of government, now trying to gain control of the third?

  17. “but that doesn’t make ramming Bush’s judges through any more popular.”

    Allowing a straight up or down vote to happen on judicial nominees hardly constitutes “ramming them through”

    A more pertinent poll question to ask the public would be whether they think the particular judges that the Dems are holding up should be appointed or not.

    Never forget that the main thing that the Dems fear about any judicial appointee is that that the person might actually believe in enforcing the Constitution (as in exactly as it is written according to the original intent of those who wrote it at the time it was ratified) instead of believing in all that “living document” crap to justify making it up as they go along.

  18. If the filibuster is to remain (and I have no problem if it does), then the Mr. Smith style of doing it should be mandated. Eliminate this pansy way of getting out of it. Make ’em work for it. Bring back the sore throats.

    It also makes for some occasional humor.

  19. I don’t think the GOP will actually do it. They’ll try, but some of those GOP Senators are quite young by Senate standards, and elected office is now a life-long career for many of our politicians. There’s a decent chance that the Democrats will control the Senate and the White House some time before 2040, and I assume that at least 20 GOP Senators will still be in power in 2040. Those Senators certainly don’t want to lose the power to filibuster any Democratic nominee who hired an illegal immigrant nanny.

    So I expect that this “nuclear option” will fail to ignite but inflict radiation burns on those who attempt to handle it.

  20. The Republicans wipe their asses with the Constitution just as much as the Democrats.

    It’s all about power-grabs that our founding fathers tried to protect us from. It’s all eroding before our eyes like Homer’s big pile of sugar.

  21. Although I said earlier that I don’t think the GOP will actually go through with it in the end, I do think they’ll go to the brink until a bunch of GOP Senators back out to preserve their right to filibuster Chelsea Clinton’s nominees in 2030 (given how much job security incumbents enjoy, I’m assuming that a lot of the current GOP Senators will still be there in 2030).

    They have to take this all the way to the brink, however, to show the base that they tried their best. Then, when that fails, they can return to business as usual. The best part for them is that since the status quo won’t really be upset, and since the monkey business will have happened in 2005, in November of 2006 a lot moderates will forget about it.

  22. “The Republicans wipe their asses with the Constitution just as much as the Democrats.”

    No they don’t

    Which party created the “New Deal”?

    Which party created the “Great Society” programs and the “War on Poverty” programs?

    Which party has pushed national gun control legislation?

    Which party has tried to nationalize the Health Care industry?

    Which party has been the primary driver of an expanionist nanny-state federal government for the past 60 or 70 years?

    The Republicans aren’t innocent but the Democrats are far more guilty.

  23. GM:

    Hey man, I won’t argue with you there. I work in D.C. and would like nothing more then to go piss on the FDR memorial.

    But here are Republican crimes (actual and attempted):

    Defense of Marriage Amendment

    Flag-burning Amendment

    Assault on Federalism (special Terry Schiavo law)

    Assault on Separation of Powers (judicial branch)

    Blatant Abuse of Commerce Clause (to wage Drug War)

    I’m sure others here can add to the list.

  24. Oh, and the whole Republican effort to abolish the church/state separation and establish a Christian theocracy.

  25. ( ed. note: For the sake of clarity, we’re changing the 1:02pm post of thoreau. The statement “to show the base that they tried their best” will have they more accurately reflected by the term thems that are running for prez in 2008.)

  26. Mr NG – none of the things you attibuted to the Repubs have anywhere the scope and expense (economic effect) on the majority of people’s lives as has the Democrat’s erecting the federal nanny-state and welfare state programs.

    As for your remarks about assault on separation of powers and claim of Repubs destroying separation of church and state – since we’re talking about what’s in the actual Constitution it’s usefull to point out that the federal judiciary is in fact NOT independent of the legislative branch. In fact the whole federal court system other than the Sumpreme Court was created by an act of Congress via powers delegated to it in Article III. Anything created by an act of Congress is subject to the power of Congress. Congress could legally abolish the whole federal court system tomorrow. Even the Supreme Court is not totally independent. Congress can limit the appellate jurisdiction of the SC in certain types of cases by simple majority vote via Article III, Section 2.

    As for the separation of church and state issue, recall that that phrase does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. It says “Congress shall make no law”. The fact is that several states had official state religions at the time the Bill of Rights was ratified. They were NOT immediately declared unconstitutional and some of them persisted up until sometime in the 1820’s

    The BOR was originally intended only to apply to the federal govt but 20th century courts have “creatively” used the “equal protection” phrase in the 14th Amendment to selectively apply parts of the BOR to the states based on their own personal preferences. Thus states can’t promote religion because of the 1st Amendment but it A-OK for states to pass gun control laws in violation of the 2nd Amendment since the courts didn’t want that one to apply.

  27. An interesting side note on the whole debate. From what I understand the senate rules must be changed by a 2/3 majority. So if the republicans were actually trying to change the rules they would fail. Rather they are asking Cheney to reinterpret the existing rules to bar judicial fillibusters. To confirm this would require only a majority (50) of the senators. Hence they might get this through. Aside from being a bit underhanded, the particular choice of method seems very similar to the judicial activism they are so opposed to. Irony anyone?

  28. Drew, politicians are way beyond irony.

  29. GM:

    Your constitutional scholarship is much better then mine.. but I thought the whole point of separation of powers is that all three branches be equal, and balance each other out. For Congress to have the “total power” card doesn’t make much sense to me.

    Also, I’m under the impression that we were set up to be a secular government. Our founding fathers were much more influenced by the Enlightenment then by any Judeo/Christian theology. We should be governed by laws of men, not by any supernatural being.

    You mentioned the economic crimes committed by Democrats, and again, I won’t argue. But the Congressional Republicans are currently running the biggest deficit this country has ever seen.. and they certainly aren’t shying away from pork spending, corporate welfare, and farm subsidies.

    Two heads on the same beast..

  30. Gil,

    The courts apply the same Second Amendment standard to state laws that they apply to the federal government. You may not like the application in either case, but it is not accurate to say they have selectively applied the 14th Amendment to the First but not the Second.

    Nor is it accurate to claim that the application of the 14th to state laws is a 20th century phenomenon – laws were struck down in the South during Reconstruction based on the 14th Amendment’s application of the Bill of Rights to state laws – including a rather famous example when the 2nd Amendment was used to strike down state laws restricting gun ownership to white people.

  31. As long as we’re talking about the economic sins of the GOP, let’s not forget that the largest expansion of the welfare state since the 1960’s happened with Bush’s signature and the votes of quite a few Congressional Republicans: The Medicare prescription drug bill.

    Say what you will about the economic sins of the Democrats, but the GOP leadership no longer has any moral authority on that matter. The Dems might be worse, but the GOP leadership has lost any pretense of economic conservatism.

  32. This really can’t come back and bite the GOP in the ass. First, because the cat is already out of the bag. Threatening to use the nuclear option is just as significant as actually using it, so you might as well just do it. Secondly, the judiciary is already heavily slanted to the left, and the Republicans never utilized the filibuster option in the past (Ginsburg was almost unanimously confimed). So if they say to themselve, lets not “go nuclear” so we can filibuster in the futre (again, with no guarentee that the Dems, when in the majority, will play by the same rules)they are essentially locking in the status quo. And the status quo, from a Conservative perspective, sucks. The only way the Republicans should back down is if the Dems unilaterally surrender on the issue. From a policy perspective, it is win/win for us. We get strict constructionist judges, plus the Senate gets shut down, hopefully forever. Bring it on.

  33. The Republicans, via Richard Nixon, are also responsible for the Federal agency that probably engages in more costly antilibertarian regulation and rulemaking than any other: The Environmental Protection Agency. As long as somebody’s keeping score.

  34. True, but if Nixon were around today, his policies would fit within the mainstream of the Democratic party. You can’t compare a pre-Reagan Republican party to the party of today. When Nixon was around, most of the Southern Democrats who dominate the party today weren’t even in the party. I look at the modern Repbulcian party as being wrong about 65% of the time, and the modern Democrats as being wrong 99% of the time. We still have a long way to go, and things might be getting worse.

  35. I think the filibuster in all its guises is unconstitutional, but philosophically I don’t mind anything that holds up legislation.

    Yep, that pretty much sums up how I feel about it too.

    Okay, maybe I’m totally missing something here, but wouldn’t this come back and bite the Republicans in the ass when they become the minority again?

    Only if you assume that the Democrats will leave the filibuster rule in place when they retake the Senate. That is unlikely in the extreme. The filibuster rule barely survived the Fortas affair, and Fortas didn’t even have majority support. If Republicans start shutting down Democratic nominees one after the other, the filibuster rule’s going right out the window — with full (except for Fox) press support.

    The Republicans probably view this as a chance to get the Democrats before the Democrats get them. It is a reasonable belief; both parties have been steadily escalating the battle over judges for decades now.

  36. Dan,
    It goes even further than that. The Court system in this country is heavily weighted to the left. Given the imbalance in the bar and the legal profession, any “moderate” judge is going to skew left. So even if the Democrats don’t go nuclear, the establishment of a principle where only “moderate” judges can get through the Senate would ensure that the Democrats control the Courts forever. Remember, the media painted Ginsburg and Breyer as moderates (and the Republicans approved them by huge margins). The Republicans absolutely have to go nuclear, or get the Democrats to back down completely. Otherwise they lose.

  37. “You may not like the application in either case, but it is not accurate to say they have selectively applied the 14th Amendment to the First but not the Second.”

    The courts have selectively taken an expansionist view of 1st Amendment freedoms like freedom of speech (i.e it not only means freedom of literal speech but freedom of almost anything that could be remotely construed as any form of expression) while simultaneously pretending that the 2nd Amendment doesn’t actually mean what it says in the operative clause of the sentence that states ” the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.

    Thus the 1st means much more than it literally says while the 2nd means much less that what it literally says.

  38. So, in order to counteract the fact that lawyers allegedly skew to the left, the Republicans need to be free to pack the benches with ideological hacks? So, when the Democrats retake the Senate with a Democratic President, and pack the courts with leftist ideological hacks will you be accepting it as the way of things, or will you be in here complaining that it’s “not fair” that they’re attempting to play by the same rules?

  39. My prediction? The GOP’s arrogance will cause them to use the nuclear option, the Dem’s stubbornness will cause them to shut the Senate down, and we the public have a nice long period of peace and relaxation.

    Who said there could be no positive outcome?

    More likely, though, a shut down would make the public disgusted with both parties, and if anyone has any memory of it in 2006 it will only make them so disgusted with the process that they stay home in November. Funny, we go from record high voter turn out to record low? Might happen.

  40. TEACHER: Johnny, use “bloviate” in a sentence.

    LITTLE JOHNNY: Personally, I like plain tomato juice okay, but I rank it b’low V-8.

  41. So, when the Democrats retake the Senate with a Democratic President, and pack the courts with leftist ideological hacks will you be accepting it as the way of things, or will you be in here complaining that it’s “not fair” that they’re attempting to play by the same rules?

    When the Democrats had a Democratic President and a Democratic Senate, they *did* pack the benches with ideological hacks. And yes, the Republicans bitched about it. And yes, the Democrats, should they retake the Presidency and the Senate, will pack the benches with hacks again, and the Republicans will bitch about it again.

  42. If they were that bad, then why didn’t the Republicans fillibuster? It’s not as if the Dems have created any new precedent by making threats.

  43. If they were that bad, then why didn’t the Republicans fillibuster?

    Because they didn’t want the power of the filibuster taken away from them, so they used it very sparingly. That is the real mistake the Democrats are making.

    Bear in mind that the Democrats controlled Congress almost continuously from the FDR years until the early 90s. A Republican congresscritter in, say, 1978, basically expected to spend his entire career as a member of the minority party. When you’re a permanent member of a minority, you don’t prod the majority into taking away any more of your power.

    I think a lot of Democrats — the ones elected prior to the 90s, who went into Congress under the assumption that they had a god-given right to be in the majority forever and ever, amen — simply can’t get it through their heads that they’re in the minority now and probably will be for a while yet. I think that’s why they are making the stupid and short-sighted decision to filibuster.

  44. “If they were that bad, then why didn’t the Republicans fillibuster?”-Shem

    While I largely agree with Dan’s points above, I would like to add one more thing. Prior to GW Bush’s election, it was considered uncivil to filibuster judicial nominations for ideological reasons. Despite the Democrats recent self-serving rhetoric about the historical uses of judicial filibusters. It just was not done, by either party. This is not to say Clinton had an entirely free hand with his nominations, the GOP did use other kinds of delaying tactics, but not the filibuster.

    The Democrats, unfortunately, have become a bit unhinged since ’94 and epsecially ’00, and consider any abuse of the rules on their part as entirely justified.

  45. Scott —

    Given that you believe “The Court system in this country is heavily weighted to the left,” perhaps you could give us the percentage of judges in the federal court system, or even just the percentage in the Appellate Courts and Supreme Court, who were appointed by Republican presidents. Or do you have some definition of “left” that includes Ronald Reagan?

  46. Prior to GW Bush’s election, it was considered uncivil to filibuster judicial nominations for ideological reasons.

    You know, I’m no expert on the history of the judiciary, but so many statements about what politics was like in “the good old days” have turned out to be wrong under closer examination.

    Confirmation battles might be more partisan today than they were at some point in the past, but partisan confirmation battles are nothing new. It’s the sort of thing that has waxed and waned over time. I seem to recall Adams taking flack for a bunch of heavily politicized “midnight appointments” to the bench before leaving office. I seem to recall Samuel Chase being impeached. I recall FDR threatening to pack the courts.

    And I recall the GOP using slick procedural moves to block a lot of Clinton’s nominees. The reason the Dems are using the filibuster rather than various other tactics is that most other tactics have been abolished by the GOP.

    Now, the Dems have complained about the removal of such non-filibuster options, and for the record I think they’re a bunch of fucking hypocrites. (Politicians being hypocrites? Who’d’ve thunk?) But I also think the Republicans are being hypocrites to complain now about judicial nominees with majority support being held up with procedural maneuvers.

    Finally, I find it funny to hear people act as though there’s something shocking about the judicial confirmation process being partisan and politicized. Yes, I know, in an ideal world the judiciary would be apolitical and non-partisan. But the reality is that the judiciary is the third branch of the government. Let me repeat that: the government. What were the odds that things might get political when politicians are busy selecting members of the third branch of the government. The confirmation process has always been political, although the degree of politicization has waxed and waned over the years.

    I still maintain that the GOP won’t use the “nuclear option”. They’ll get exactly 49 votes for it. But a lot of those GOP Senators (or their children) will still be in office 20 years from now when the Dems finally retake the Senate and White House. Representatives with competitive seats might think in 2 year intervals, but anybody with a safe seat (especially a Senator with a 6 year term) thinks about how best to preserve his power and privilege over the long haul.

  47. Nice filibuster, thoreau.

  48. The Republicans, via Richard Nixon, are also responsible for the Federal agency that probably engages in more costly antilibertarian regulation and rulemaking than any other: The Environmental Protection Agency. As long as somebody’s keeping score.

    Not to mention that, despite what more recent presidents have done, Nixon is probably most responsible for the War on Drugs.

    Suppressing the Schafer Commission because it contradicted his (Nixon’s) “Negroes and Marihuana” obsession may not up there with Nixon’s other crimes, but it gave momentum to the psychosis the nation still suffers about drugs.

  49. “Nice filibuster, thoreau.”

    Hey, put a smiley at the end of that crack 🙂

  50. Nice filibuster, thoreau

    Mr. Chairman, I’d like to read the following into the record:

    Aaron Aadanowitz 423-7689
    Aaron Aaronov 525-9103
    Aaron Aaronowitz 563-4817
    Aaron T. Aaronowitz 245-1187
    .
    .
    .
    .

  51. “The Republicans wipe their asses with the Constitution just as much as the Democrats.”

    Abolition and the universal male franchise came from a Republican president, women’s suffrage from a Democrat. Those are the two biggest changes (or “ass-wipings”, as our presumably white male and landowning strict constructivist friends would call them) I can think of.

  52. I would now like to read the following into the record:

    Only add fuel to the lawnmower when the lawnmower is turned off. Unscrew the cap and add unleaded gasoline until the level of the gasoline reaches the black line on the inner lining of the gas tank. Screw the cap back in and wipe off any gasoline that spilled onto the exterior of the mower.

    With the lawnmower level on the ground, stand away from the opening to the blades and pull firmly and quickly on the cord….

  53. sy

    Abolition, the universal male franchise and women’s suffrage all came about as a result of amendments. I can’t think of any way that would be considered ass-wiping with the Constitution.

    I thought Mr. Nice Guy was referring to the blatant disregard of any constitutional limitations on their powers, with not the slightest nod at needing amendments to authorize their power grabs.

  54. Mr. Bartram:

    You’re absolutely right. About ten minutes after posting that comment, I realized that it was very stupid. In their wisdom, the authors of our constitution anticipated that it would need amending, and provided a process that would make it possible, but not overly easy, to do so.

    I think that part of my point can still be rescued, however. Constitutional amendment was not the only mechanism which our “founding fathers” put in place to ensure the vitality of the state which they orchestrated. They also placed themselves, de facto if not de jure, within the common law tradition, which, from its 11th-12th century Anglo-Normon origins, has always been a flexible instrument and adaptible to changes in legal thinking, technology, and the mores of the broader culture. Which is to say: whether by means of amendment, legislation, or merely evolving customs (e.g. the semantically incomprehensible but politically indispensible convention of the interstate commerce clause as currently used), the American law has changed in the last 200+ years. And saying that this shouldn’t be so is simply foolish. Instead, we should be bothered by situations where an interested minority attempts to hijack the systems, whether official or unofficial, by which laws change, and attempts to thwart the will of the public. And this is the dynamic that I see at work in the current legislative branch; our Democratic minority represents more voters, any way you measure it, then the Republican majority.

    Listen to me, I’m filibustering. Anyway, my point is: you’re right, and I’m wrong. Amending the constitution is not wiping one’s ass with it.

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