Today Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist proposed a radical change to the Senate’s filibuster rules, one that would effectively eliminate the filibuster on judicial nominations.
“This so-called compromise isn’t real,” said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas. “It’s made for TV, but without even the substance of a typical reality show.”
“Senator Frist’s plan has the same goal as the nuclear option, and would have the same devastating impact,” said Neas. “It would give the President virtually unlimited power to put anyone on the federal courts. It would undermine the independence of the judiciary. And it would dramatically weaken the role of the Senate in our system of checks and balances.”
Neas said Frist’s effort to portray his proposal as a reasonable compromise was “political posturing to give cover for an unprincipled and unprecedented plot to break Senate rules.”
“Senator Frist is playing games with the Senate and the American people,” said Neas, “and he should be ashamed of himself.”
Neas called on Senate Democrats and Republicans to insist that any change in Senate filibuster rules, including Frist’s new proposal, be handled according to the rules of the Senate, and not adopted under pressure from Frist’s threat to impose his will by an illegitimate power play. Senate rules explicitly require 67 votes to end debate on changes to the rules themselves.
“Senator Frist seems hell-bent on overturning more than 200 years of Senate tradition, rules and precedents,” said Neas. “He would like to be able to run the Senate like Tom DeLay’s House of Representatives, where the minority party can be, and regularly is, shut out of important decision-making. Senators from both parties should carefully consider that prospect, and urge Frist to take his finger off the nuclear trigger.”