Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Sam Smith: The GOP And Media Filibuster The Facts

The GOP And Media Filibuster The Facts

By Editor Sam Smith

SAM SMITH, PROGRESSIVE REVIEW - The coverage of the debate over judicial nominations is one more example of the media swallowing hook, line, and sinker the spin of the Bush regime. It is naturally in the Republicans' interest to emphasize the potential use of the filibuster by Democrats who oppose the nominations for it raises the spectre of deeply unfair and anti-democratic forces at play.

In fact, it is nothing of the sort. The filibuster is simply a long way around the barn to reach something perfectly democratic that is not only in keeping with the spirit of a working republic but with our own Constitution: namely reaching a consensus through what is sometimes called a super majority.

One may disagree with the need for a super majority but to suggest that it is anti-democratic is absolutely false. As Senator Boxer has suggested, you could greatly simplify matters and just require a three-fifths vote for confirmation of judicial nominations. There not only is nothing anti-democratic in this; one need look no further than the Constitution itself for precedent.

The Constitution requires a two-thirds vote for impeachment, to expel a senator or to override a veto. It requires the same for approval of a treaty and calls for special majorities if the election of the president is referred to the House. It also requires a two-thirds vote to amend the Constitution followed by ratification of three-quarters of the state legislatures.

What is truly amazing about the above facts is that we found them neatly summarized in a 1997 report of the Republican Policy Committee of the U.S. Senate. The report also notes:

"Madison (always) and Hamilton (sometimes) were in attendance at the convention when these super-majority requirements were adopted, and Madison himself was responsible for some of them. They signed the Constitution. They became its most able advocates. . .

"Finally, we know that both Madison and Hamilton thought super-majorities were sometimes necessary because they advocated them separately. In convention, Madison moved that a vote of two-thirds be required to expel a Senator or Representative. His motion carried 10 States to none. It was also Madison who moved that if the choice of a President should fall to Congress, a quorum must consist of two-thirds.

"Far from being opponents of super-majorities, Madison and Hamilton supported them. They supported them in the Constitution, in The Federalist, and in the convention. They supported them because some rights are 'too important to be exercised by a bare majority of a quorum.'" Given the corruption of our court system by both parties, the right to a fair trial would be an excellent place to observe this principle.

The U.S. is not alone in using super majorities, as Wikipedia summarizes:

"The constitutions of a great many nations provide that they may be amended by the legislature, but only by a special, extra large majority of votes cast (also known as a supermajority, or a "qualified" or "weighted" majority). This is usually a majority of two-thirds the total number of votes cast. In a bicameral parliament it may be required that a special majority be achieved in both chambers of the legislature. In addition, many constitutions require a that an amendment receive the votes of a minimum absolute number of members, rather than simply the support of those present at a meeting of the legislature which is in quorum. For example, the German 'Basic Law' may be amended with the consent of a majority of two-thirds in both the Bundestag and Bundesrat. The constitution of Brazil may be amended with the consent of both houses of Congress by a majority of three-fifths.

So, in the end - despite the gross misrepresentation of the Bush regime sadly reinforced by a faux objective media - what we are really talking about is not the disruption of democratic procedures but their insurance by a firmer consensus than a mere majority. In a country so bitterly divided as ours, a better consensus makes eminent sense. Besides, given what happened in the 2000 and 2004 election, the Republican Party should be the last body in America to lecture us on the virtues of majority rule.



Since 1964, Washington's most unofficial source


1312 18th St. NW #502 Washington DC 20036
202-835-0770 Fax: 835-0779

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news