Thursday, May 12, 2005

High stakes

For anyone still unclear about why the filibuster argument is important, I recommend Prof. Balkin's excellent analysis:

In fact, the controversy is about more than whether these seven individuals become federal judges. It is about the relative power of the two parties going forward and about the likely content of constitutional law in the next generation. Both of these things are eminently worth fighting about.

The Republicans currently hold all three branches of government. They have won what I call the "constitutional trifecta." During such periods, all three branches are working more or less in sync with each other, and American democracy, which is full of checks and balances, begins to approach the single minded efficiency of a parliamentary system ruled by a single party and led by a Prime Minister who is the head of the party. . . .

Although the Republicans have won the trifecta, the country is fairly evenly divided in support for Democrats and Republicans (I put it this way because there are many independents who switch allegiances depending on the candidate or issue). So the current situation represents a serious malapportionment of power. The Republicans have too much power given their public support; the Democrats too little. The Republicans would like to consolidate their gains and become the majority party, not simply in terms of seats but in terms of public support, and drive the Democrats into a position of permanent minority status. . . .

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