The San Diego Democracy for America Meetup Group Message Board › URGENT - Fight to preserve the filibuster
|A former member||
Here's another one. This one is MOST important because the Republicans are proposing (the "Nuclear Option") to end the filibuster - one of the most important tools in enabling the minority to prevent the majority from ramming through legislation repugnant to minority interests. That is the position we Democrats are in right now, and the DNC is circulating a petition (below) which currently has over 1,000,000 (1 million) names on it in opposition to ending this most valuable of tools. Please consider adding yours to this crucial effort.
Stop Senate Republicans from silencing all opposition. Sign our petition today:
Senate Republicans are going for the ultimate power grab. They're going to give themselves absolute power, silencing Senate Democrats (and the millions of Americans they represent) by changing the rules and traditions of the Senate.
No more debate. No more dissent. No more checks and balances. Nothing stopping the Republicans from ramming the Bush agenda through.
There is no issue more urgent than this one. And we need you to take action right now.
This Wednesday, the Democratic Party and allied organizations will present more than 1 million petition signatures to Senate Democrats as a sign of support and public opposition to the Republican power grab. You must sign our petition today if you want your name presented to our leaders in the Senate:
This is what we risk. By silencing Democrats on the Senate floor, Republicans will easily approve all of President Bush's extreme right-wing judicial nominees, giving them lifetime appointments to the federal bench -- no matter what their records look like. This puts all of our values we hold dear -- civil liberties, voting rights, a woman's right to choose, education, environmental protections -- at grave risk.
The whole Republican agenda will become the law of the land because the GOP will have silenced all effective opposition.
You must take action today. Join the fight and tell our Senate leaders you stand with them in their fight to protect free speech and the checks and balances that make our democracy strong.
Nancy, Jesse, and Josh
The DNC Internet Team
|A former member||
I just wanted to add some information in case some of you are unfamiliar with the filibuster, and need to uderstand it better. It allows unlimited debate, and it requires 60 votes to end it, instead of the 51 required to pass a measure. For that reason it is the most powerful tool the minority has against the majority.
As of now, there are 55 Republican senators, 44 Democrats, and one Independent, Jim Jeffords of Vermont. The Republicans want to confirm 10 judges who were rejected before the last election because of insufficient qualifications or biased ideology.
The 55 Republicans could by themslves could confirm this list of damaging judges were it not for the possibility of the unlimited debate provided by the filibuster. As long as it exists, there most likely will not be enough votes to confirm these destructive judges into LIFETIME positions that could permanently damage the objectivity of our court system. The article below, from Save Our Courts, via TomkPaine.com explains more fully that I possibly could.
'Nuclear Option' Opposition Goes Beyond Capitol Hill
By civilrights.org staff
March 23, 2005
Hundreds of enthusiastic Americans packed into a Washington D.C. ballroom during their lunch hour on March 16 to protest the Bush administration's nomination of several right-wing judges and its proposal to exclude the filibuster from the Senate rules, a procedure that has been used since this country's founding.
The rally, sponsored by MoveOn.org, featured several prominent Senators and leading advocates for a fair and independent judiciary. Senators at the event included Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senators Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., Leahy, D-Vt., Kennedy, D-Mass., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.
MoveOn's announcement of the rally, barely two days before, turned out hundreds of supporters for a fair and independent judiciary. Meanwhile, advocates outside of D.C., about 350,000, have continued to sign a national petition to oppose President Bush's already-rejected, re-nominated, highly-controversial judges. A week before the rally, Americans from all over the country gathered in 1,500 living rooms to draw up local campaign plans to defend the courts.
The fiery keynote address of the rally was given by 87-year-old Senator Byrd. After quieting the excited crowd, Byrd began his speech by detailing his disgust at the proposal to terminate the use of the filibuster.
"An ill wind is blowing across this country," he said. "That wind blows the seeds of destruction. Our Constitution is under attack. We must speak out and kill this dangerous effort to rewrite our precious Constitution. Our freedom of speech is in jeopardy."
The maneuver to end filibusters, dubbed the "nuclear option," would end 200-year-old Senate traditions and deny senators in the minority the right to filibuster against measures with which they disagree. In trying to invoke the nuclear option for judges, Republicans would bypass Senate rules that allow filibustering by asking for a ruling from the Senate's presiding officer - Vice President Dick Cheney - that blocking judicial nominees is unconstitutional. Only 51 votes would be needed to uphold the ruling, as opposed to the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster.
Senator Byrd asserted that free speech and the minority opinion were under attack, and that Republicans wanted to change Senate rules in order to pack the courts with conservative judges, many of whom were not confirmed the first time they were nominated.
Senator Reid agreed with Senator Byrd. He added that instead of changing Senate rules to limit debate, senators should be spending time on health care and public education issues. Calling the nuclear option an "arrogance of power," Reid ended with a plea to the crowd, and other MoveOn.org members, to reach out to Republican senators and convince them that the plan to end the filibuster is bad for the entire country.
Senator Boxer pointed out that only 10 of President Bush's 204 judicial nominees are being filibustered. She said the administration is proposing to end the filibuster because is not getting everything that it wants.
"They're throwing a temper tantrum!" she told the enthusiastic crowd.
Boxer also explained why the nuclear option is a detrimental proposal. Because judges receive lifetime appointments, she said, it is imperative that their qualifications are properly debated. If debate about these individuals is suppressed, the constitutional motivation of checks and balances would end, she said.
Senator Clinton said that the filibuster goes to the heart of the country. The proposal to stop the practice, she said, "cannot be good for either party."
Leaders of prominent civil rights groups also voiced their support for protecting the confirmation system and the right to debate in the Senate.
"They're going after the crown jewel: a fair and independent judiciary," said Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice.
Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights also forcefully voiced his concerns.
"Protecting the judiciary is an American issue," he said. He further warned that cutting off debate would not stop with judicial nominations, but would set a dangerous precedent for the Social Security, as well as other, debates.