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Republicans Plan To End Cherished Political Tradition Of The Filibuster
The Telegraph (UK) ^ | 4-10-2005 | Philip Sherwell

Posted on 04/09/2005 9:12:17 PM PDT by blam

Republicans plan to end cherished political tradition of the filibuster

By Philip Sherwell in Washington
(Filed: 10/04/2005)

Republican Senate leaders are planning to curb the cherished American political tradition of the filibuster in an effort to prevent the minority Democrats from using the tactic to block the appointment of conservative judges.

The furore over the case of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman who died last month after state and federal courts refused appeals from her parents for her feeding tube to be reinstalled, has given fresh momentum to the campaign by powerful Republicans to challenge the judiciary.

The showdown over the filibuster - a two-centuries-old Senate rule that in effect allows just 41 of the 100 members to obstruct legislation and nominations by talking for as long as they can - is developing into the biggest political clash of President George W. Bush's second term.

Democrats have condemned what has widely been described as the "nuclear option" of rewriting the rules on filibustering and are threatening to retaliate by bringing Senate business to a standstill through a series of other delaying procedures.

Used alongside other tactics such as inviting questions while holding the floor, the filibuster has long been a potent weapon of obstruction in US legislative battles. The right of senators to unlimited debating time dates to the second Congress in 1791. The name filibuster originally referred to the French term for buccaneers in the Caribbean.

The longest filibuster was staged by Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who held forth for 24 hours and 18 minutes in an unsuccessful attempt to block the 1957 Civil Rights Act, only surrendering the floor after his doctor warned him that he risked imminent kidney failure.

Under the rules filibusters must remain standing, cannot lean on the podium or take toilet breaks. Prior to his record-breaking filibuster, Mr Thurmond dehydrated himself in a sauna to delay the call of nature. Filibusters can also choose to "tag-team", speaking as long as possible before yielding the floor to a colleague.

There is no need for a filibustering speech to bear any relevance to the issue the Senate is supposed to be discussing. In the 1930s Senator Huey Long of Louisiana famously used to extol the virtues of fried oysters and recite Shakespeare while opposing legislation that he claimed favoured the rich over the poor.

Among Americans, perhaps the best-known filibuster was the fictional 23-hour speech in Mr Smith Goes to Washington in which the young Senator Jefferson Smith, played by James Stewart, takes on his corrupt and powerful peers.

The filibuster now looms as a potential weapon in the confrontation between conservatives and liberals over President Bush's judicial nominations, which are seen as the key political battleground in what both sides refer to as America's "culture wars".

The immediate conflict is over nominations to federal appeals courts - 10 of the 52 names that Mr Bush put forward during his first term were blocked by filibusters or the threat of one.

The President has resubmitted seven of the rejected 10 to Congress in a signal that he is not willing to compromise on his choices. Democrats claim that the nominees are radical conservatives determined to impose their social agenda on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Supporters of the nominees say they are well-qualified justices who oppose the sort of so-called judicial "activism" that allowed the courts to establish abortion rights in the first place.

The stakes, however, are expected to escalate because up to three of the nine Supreme Court justices are expected to be replaced during Mr Bush's second four-year term. The separation of powers between the executive, legislature and judiciary gives senior judges considerable clout, meaning that appointments are often hotly contested.

The rules governing the use of the filibuster are complex. Republicans control 55 of the 100 Senate seats, enough for the straight majority required to approve Mr Bush's judicial nominees if they are able to reach a vote.

A filibustering operation can prevent the vote going ahead, however, unless a separate majority of 60 out of the 100 senators votes that the filibuster should not be allowed.

Unable to muster the required figure of 60, Republicans now want to scrap the filibuster option by amending the Senate rules. Plans to do so have been drawn up by Senator Bill Frist, the Republican majority leader expected to run for his party's presidential nomination in 2008.

Conservative and liberal pressure groups have brought their money and power to the opposing sides. On the right, delivering a new tranche of conservative judges is seen as payback to conservative lobbyists for their success in turning out voters for Mr Bush and Republican senators last November.

The poisonous mood in Washington deepened last week when Tom DeLay, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, the lower chamber, accused federal courts of "running amok" in a speech to a conference entitled Confronting the Judicial War on Faith. Mr DeLay, who has led the condemnation of the courts over the Terri Schiavo case, added: "Judicial independence does not equal judicial supremacy."

The pro-Democrat grouping, People for the American Way, has countered with a series of prime-time television commercials defending the role of the filibuster as an important part of the system of checks and balances that America's founders created to rein in the power of the majority party.

After the Republican attacks on the courts over the Schiavo case, the Democrat minority says it is defending the judiciary against political interference and intimidation. "If they don't get what they want, they attack whoever is around," said Senator Harry Reid, the leader of the Democrat minority. "Now they're after the courts. I think it goes back to this arrogance of power."

The rancour over nominations on Capitol Hill goes beyond new justices. Democrats plan to mount a strong challenge tomorrow when confirmation hearings begin for John Bolton, the hawkish number three at the State Department whom Mr Bush wants to be the next ambassador at the United Nations.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: cherished; end; filibuster; plan; political; republicans; tradition; ussenate
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1 posted on 04/09/2005 9:12:19 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

I love my country's version of Democracy.

A system of checks of balances that puts other nations to shame.

Now, do our reps have the guts to push for a show down? I sincerely hope so.


2 posted on 04/09/2005 9:14:16 PM PDT by coconutt2000 (NO MORE PEACE FOR OIL!!! DOWN WITH TYRANTS, TERRORISTS, AND TIMIDCRATS!!!! (3-T's For World Peace))
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To: blam

I wish they did trash the whole (unconstitutional) filibuster, but I thought the plan was just to dump its use for judicial appointments. The "tradition" of filibustering those goes back 4 years.


3 posted on 04/09/2005 9:15:14 PM PDT by Phocion (Abolish the 16th Amendment.)
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To: blam

I thought Bolton was confirmed


4 posted on 04/09/2005 9:16:19 PM PDT by woofie
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To: blam; bd476
CRY ME A RIVER

5 posted on 04/09/2005 9:17:29 PM PDT by The Spirit Of Allegiance (ATTN. MARXIST RED MSM: I RESENT your "RED STATE" switcheroo using our ELECTORAL MAP as PROPAGANDA!)
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To: Phocion

That's what I thought, too. Nothing is stopping traditional "cherished" legislative filibusters, but the Dems know they can make the public think that's what's happening.


6 posted on 04/09/2005 9:17:47 PM PDT by jwalburg (Nothing opens the closed minds of academic administrators like a pocketbook snapping shut - Williams)
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To: blam
Liberals raped the filibuster like a Scottish farmer at the hindquarters of a Highland sheep. Time to copy an act that the libs love, and pull it's feeding tube.


7 posted on 04/09/2005 9:18:25 PM PDT by Viking2002 (Let's get the Insurrection started, already..............)
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To: blam

Correct me if I am wrong but I thought the idea was to eliminate filibustering ONLY on appointments? The aticle seems to imply that all filibustering will be eliminated.

BTW I am in favor of filibustering (not on appoinments) because it eliminates what John Stuart Mills called the "tyranny of the majority".


8 posted on 04/09/2005 9:19:46 PM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Liberalism: The irrational fear of self reliance.)
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To: blam

Good on our side! A lot of "traditions" need to be re-examined. Watch the libs cry and cry!


9 posted on 04/09/2005 9:19:57 PM PDT by NEBUCHADNEZZAR1961
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To: blam

I'd like to see them go back to the original filibuster. Hold the floor of the Senate personally, none of this wimpy "gentleman's agreement" hogwash.

Of course the Republican's don't have the stones to push it back to that level, because then when it's their turn for the fundraising letters to plead "help us get back in charge" they'd have to have some Senators with the fortitude to stand up.


10 posted on 04/09/2005 9:20:12 PM PDT by cryptical
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To: blam

...the filibuster - a two-centuries-old Senate rule that in effect allows just 41 of the 100 members to obstruct legislation and nominations by talking as long as they can..."

And just how does this relate the what the f'head dems are doing by requiring 60 votes to stop a laugh called filibuster invoked by words only. They are NOT 'talking as long as they can'.

I would love to see "Sheets" Byrd get up and babble for the LAST three hours of his sickening life! May he rot in hell!

/vent


11 posted on 04/09/2005 9:21:18 PM PDT by lawdude (Liberalism is a mental disease.)
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To: blam

I wonder if this writer is really as ignorant and uninformed as he seems to be or if he is increbibly biased? This is merry old England's paper, is it not?


12 posted on 04/09/2005 9:21:41 PM PDT by whereasandsoforth (Stamp out liberals with the big boot of truth)
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To: blam
The stakes, however, are expected to escalate because up to three of the nine Supreme Court justices are expected to be replaced during Mr Bush's second four-year term.

This is news to me. More likely, it's a gross exaggeration by the author.
Rehnquist is likely to be replaced and maybe O'Conner. So at best, we can replace a conservative and a moderate with two conservatives. But that still leaves 4 unabashed scumbags plus one wild card (Anthony Kennedy).

A meaningful return to respect for the Constitution and the rule of law will only begin when a scumbag gets replaced by a conservative. And I have a funny feeling that the scumbags will not leave the Court until there's a scumbag President to appoint their replacements.

13 posted on 04/09/2005 9:32:02 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: whereasandsoforth

The Telegraph is actually the "conservative" British daily.


14 posted on 04/09/2005 9:32:44 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: whereasandsoforth

The fillibuster has become a tool of tyranny, a tool to obstruct a functional, representative government -- let it be gone. But I would not bet my life on the Repubs making it happen.

While the left continues to destroy this country through the use and placement of their minions (judicial mainly) to operate outside the law and assigned duty, the Repubs are STILL JUST TALKING!!!


15 posted on 04/09/2005 9:32:52 PM PDT by EagleUSA (Q)
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To: blam
The showdown over the filibuster - a two-centuries-old Senate rule that in effect allows just 41 of the 100 members to obstruct legislation and nominations by talking for as long as they can

They no longer have to actually talk, they just have to threaten to do so. The House once had such a filibuster rule, it was eliminated after less than a single century as being too condusive to obstructionism.

Futhermore, as I understand it, the Senate would only eliminate the filibuster when performing their duty to advise and consent on Presidential appointments, perhaps only on those to the Judiciary. Filibusters would still be possible on legislation.

16 posted on 04/09/2005 9:32:54 PM PDT by El Gato (Activist Judges can twist the Constitution into anything they want ... or so they think.)
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To: blam

This is insane!

We cannot, simply cannot terminate filibusters. I understand they are bad for our side these days as Democrats are likely to use them to block Republican legislation.

Nevertheless, we must keep in mind that Congress whether it is controlled by Republicans or Democrats, remains a part of government. Government cannot be trusted and our democratic system is meant to be slow and often inefficient.

Furthermore, what will happen if Democrats take back control of the Senate either next year or in '08?

It seems our Republican elected officials have become drunk with power.


17 posted on 04/09/2005 9:33:14 PM PDT by Amaury
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To: Phocion
BUMP for excellence in posting!
Yes, the plan is to stop only filibusters of judicial nominees, not legislation.
18 posted on 04/09/2005 9:34:55 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: blam
All this is quite amusing coming from the Telegraph. In the British Parliamentary system the majority party can invoke closure to limit debate on any bill and does so frequently.

Ditto Canada. I've seen closure instituted many times over the years. The opposition feigns indignation for a few days to gain headlines and then goes on with further business, knowing full well they can invoke closure when it's their turn at bat.

As for my opinion this filibuster controversy is more like fili-bluster.
19 posted on 04/09/2005 9:37:41 PM PDT by beaver fever
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To: Lancey Howard

ping for the a.m.


20 posted on 04/09/2005 9:38:13 PM PDT by Dad yer funny
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To: Lancey Howard
Rehnquist is likely to be replaced and maybe O'Conner

The third would be Ginsberg, who, IIRC has health problems.

And I have a funny feeling that the scumbags will not leave the Court until there's a scumbag President to appoint their replacements.

They might try, but ill health or a natural death can force the issue.

21 posted on 04/09/2005 9:39:23 PM PDT by El Gato (Activist Judges can twist the Constitution into anything they want ... or so they think.)
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To: lawdude

It's a "cherished tradition" that Sheets himself helped to change. It used to be 67 votes.


22 posted on 04/09/2005 9:41:43 PM PDT by AmishDude (Join the AmishDude fan club: "You are a wise man." -- Torie; "You rock!" -- TonyRo76)
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To: Amaury

We've never tried to block judicial appointments with only 41 votes before. Lots of Bill Clinton's judicial appointments were approved. I don't know why we would care very much if the filibuster was taken away for those. It's not doing us any good being there.


23 posted on 04/09/2005 9:43:05 PM PDT by mhx
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To: blam


24 posted on 04/09/2005 9:46:58 PM PDT by SteveMcKing
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To: Viking2002
Liberals raped the filibuster like a Scottish farmer at the hindquarters of a Highland sheep.

You forgot the part about doing it at the edge of a cliff.

25 posted on 04/09/2005 9:47:25 PM PDT by airborne (Dear Lord, please be with my family in Iraq. Keep them close to You and safely in Your arms.)
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To: blam

When was the 'moving' filibuster, invented?
By that, I mean the idea that any one item could
be stopped, but other business could continue?

If the Dems want to filibuster, make them
do it the old way, by talking, like in the movie
'Mister Smith goes to Washington'.


26 posted on 04/09/2005 9:47:36 PM PDT by greasepaint
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To: blam

The MSM will not tolerate this. Even if Democrats do close down the Senate, the MSM will still present Republicans as angry, Evangelical, right-wingers who are "breaking tradition" and being "partisan."
Prepare for a major fight. Not just with Democrats, but with the MSM.


27 posted on 04/09/2005 9:49:42 PM PDT by mowkeka
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To: Blurblogger
I cherish the filibuster.

I couldn't sleep last night... lying awake in bed and dreaming of... the filibuster.

I can't eat, I can't think, my work is a mess... because of... the filibuster.

28 posted on 04/09/2005 9:50:48 PM PDT by SteveMcKing
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To: NEBUCHADNEZZAR1961
I heard a little girl whisper in church today, "Daddy, are they going to take away the filibuster?"

The whole pew began to weep openly.

29 posted on 04/09/2005 9:54:00 PM PDT by SteveMcKing
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To: SteveMcKing

"I couldn't sleep last night... lying awake in bed and dreaming of... the filibuster."


DO YOU WANT FRIES WITH THAT ?!?


Or as we used to hear as kids, "Do you want some tea and cookies for your pity party?"

LOL


30 posted on 04/09/2005 10:03:52 PM PDT by The Spirit Of Allegiance (ATTN. MARXIST RED MSM: I RESENT your "RED STATE" switcheroo using our ELECTORAL MAP as PROPAGANDA!)
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To: SteveMcKing

In a poll of all the children in the world, the kids were asked to choose between Lassie, Christmas, Halloween, or the fillibuster.

103% chose the fillibuster as their favorite thing.


31 posted on 04/09/2005 10:07:44 PM PDT by Joe_October (Saddam supported Terrorists. Al Qaeda are Terrorists. I can't find the link.)
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To: Viking2002

Spoken like a true Viking!!:) love it...


32 posted on 04/09/2005 10:15:58 PM PDT by suzyq5558 (This space is reserved for the next round of liberal idiocy... there they go again)
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To: blam

This is great news. The filibuster is a colossal waste of time and money.


33 posted on 04/09/2005 10:17:42 PM PDT by DennisR (Look around - there are countless observable clues that God exists)
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To: Lancey Howard; Liz; Alamo-Girl; Calpernia; bd476; Lazamataz; thoughtomator; nicmarlo; Quilla; ...
I have a funny feeling that the scumbags will not leave the Court until there's a scumbag President to appoint their replacements.

I pray that the wrath of God Himself be executed upon the workers of iniquity in high places, these rulers who rule with deceitful hearts, these who revel in evil devices, in Jesus' Name--may their evil reigns end prematurely by impeachment by the hand of the sovereign PEOPLE, One Nation, Under God!!!
34 posted on 04/09/2005 10:18:50 PM PDT by The Spirit Of Allegiance (ATTN. MARXIST RED MSM: I RESENT your "RED STATE" switcheroo using our ELECTORAL MAP as PROPAGANDA!)
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To: Straight Vermonter

BTW I am in favor of filibustering (not on appoinments) because it eliminates what John Stuart Mills called the "tyranny of the majority".

How so? I know of no filibuster that has never ended. So if anything, it only delays the tyranny.


35 posted on 04/09/2005 10:19:29 PM PDT by DennisR (Look around - there are countless observable clues that God exists)
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Comment #36 Removed by Moderator

To: DennisR

Talk is cheap - let's SEE it! SHOW ME THE NUCLEAR OPTION!


37 posted on 04/09/2005 10:22:32 PM PDT by princess leah (\)
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To: blam

What is it with these Brits - can't they get anything right ..??

The Republicans are not destroying the filibuster - they're just destroying the democrats' power.


38 posted on 04/09/2005 10:49:23 PM PDT by CyberAnt (President Bush: "America is the greatest nation on the face of the earth")
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To: blam
"Under the rules filibusters must remain standing, cannot lean on the podium or take toilet breaks."

Mr.Sherwell is mis-informed.

The democRATs in the Senate are not doing any talking, they are just declaring that the nominations are "under filibuster" and then the Senate is going about other business.

If they applied the real rules of the filibuster, the vote would only be held up for as long as someone was up there talking.

The Senate president also could enforce that nobody leaves the chamber while the filibuster was in progress.

If they followed their own rule on filibusters, the problem would take care of itself, I guarantee you.

Could you imagine how drawn and ugly ol' Teddy Kennedy would look after a couple of days without sleep, having to remain in his seat while they filibustered?

39 posted on 04/09/2005 10:52:16 PM PDT by nightdriver
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To: Lancey Howard; Phocion; El Gato; Straight Vermonter
Correct me if I am wrong but I thought the idea was to eliminate filibustering ONLY on appointments? The aticle seems to imply that all filibustering will be eliminated.

BTW I am in favor of filibustering (not on appoinments) because it eliminates what John Stuart Mills called the "tyranny of the majority".


By the way, I was watching "People for the American Way" discuss their ad campaign on CSPAN the other night. They too are pushing the idea that Republicans want to eliminate the entire filibuster (that would be fine by me).

I don't subscribe to the "tyranny of the majority" idea because the so called remedy is a "tyranny of the minority". If they're both to be considered "problems" it seems clear to me that the former is preferable because in the case of the latter the only thing that changes is that you have more people being subjected to "tyranny".
40 posted on 04/09/2005 11:05:43 PM PDT by Jaysun (I must warn you, I am a black belt in bullshitsu)
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To: Amaury
You're incorrect.

There has never been a filibuster of an appointment of a Federal Judge. Noone is talking about altering the Constitution, only a minor rules change.

Relax, take a deep breath.

L

41 posted on 04/09/2005 11:10:01 PM PDT by Lurker (Remember the Beirut Bombing; 243 dead Marines. The House of Assad and Hezbollah did it..)
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To: Phocion

I thought this "nuclear option" was to prevent the use of the filibuster in a relevant committee to block all progress - in other words being used to prevent a straight up/down vote of the whole senate. No ?

Didn't I also read somewhere that the Dems changed the rules several times while they were in the majority ? Even Sen Byrd doing it in fact >


42 posted on 04/09/2005 11:12:36 PM PDT by 1066AD
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To: El Gato
They might try, but ill health or a natural death can force the issue.

Well, I got my fingers crossed....

43 posted on 04/09/2005 11:15:00 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: whereasandsoforth

Yes, and it's usually better than this, the guy's picked up some talking-points at happy hour I think.


44 posted on 04/09/2005 11:15:23 PM PDT by 1066AD
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To: coconutt2000

This Telegraph writer is an idiot.

>>"Republican Senate leaders are planning to curb the cherished American political tradition of the filibuster"

That VERY first sentence proves this moron has no idea what he is talking about. The Republicans are NOT trying to "curb the cherished filibuster." They are stopping the Dems from MISUSING it!!!


45 posted on 04/09/2005 11:15:23 PM PDT by Mobile Vulgus
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To: Amaury

Chill. No one's talking about ending the filibuster.


46 posted on 04/09/2005 11:20:55 PM PDT by stands2reason (When in doubt, err on the side of life.)
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To: stands2reason
Chill. No one's talking about ending the filibuster.

You wouldn't know that from the ads the Rats are running. How they can do that with a straight face is astonishing.

47 posted on 04/09/2005 11:26:42 PM PDT by dfwgator (Minutemen: Just doing the jobs that American politicians won't do.)
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To: DennisR

So the Republicans have defeated the Democrat filibuster of judges?


48 posted on 04/10/2005 12:17:19 AM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Liberalism: The irrational fear of self reliance.)
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A majority of the electorate voted for Republican Senatorial candidates. Yet despite the will of the people having been expressed at the ballot box the electorate is being spat upon by the likes of Sen. Leahy and Sen. Kennedy et al through the use of this totalitarian tactic.

Dump the filibuster - there are enough checks and balances already.

No Senate or House rules should ever trump the priciple of vote man - one vote.

49 posted on 04/10/2005 1:35:30 AM PDT by Smoote
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To: Smoote

That should read "one man - one vote".


50 posted on 04/10/2005 1:45:50 AM PDT by Smoote
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