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Flipping the Byrd5 min read

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The following quote sums up one of the best arguments made for changing the filibuster rule:

This Congress is not obliged to be bound by the dead hand of the past. . . . . The first Senate, which met in 1789, approved 19 rules by a majority vote. Those rules have been changed from time to time…. So the Members of the Senate who met in 1789 and approved that first body of rules did not for one moment think, or believe, or pretend, that all succeeding Senates would be bound by that Senate…

To see who made this argument read the rest of the story.

Looking back at the Christian Science Monitor article we will again use Jim Coopman’s statement as a jumping off point.

First Coopman linked the Republicans to the filibuster because of Sen. Strom Thurmond’s historic use of it in 1957. Nevermind the fact that Thurmond was a Democrat at the time.

Coopman continues his misunderstand of the current filibuster issue with the rest of his quote:

It’s historic, and it gives them time to negotiate. Once the Republicans start chipping away on this, where does it end?

To find out the answer to his question maybe we should ask another famous Senate racist* – Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV).

Many of the loudest opposition to the change in the Senate rule regarding filibusters have been some of the strongest supporters of past changes to the filibuster.

Byrd is one of those who rails against the trampling of minority rights, while he changed the filibuster rule four times
during his time as Majority Leader. He, of course, is the one who gave us the above quote. Only he did so in 1979 when Democrats had the power.

Byrd is not the only one with selective memory, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy on June 18, 1998 said: “I have stated over and over again on this floor that I would . . . object and fight against any filibuster on a judge.” But now Leahy, the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Democrat, on April 6 declared: “Eliminating the filibuster by the nuclear option would violate and destroy the Constitution’s design of the Senate as an effective check on the executive.”

Overall rules pertaining to the filibuster have been changed seven times. Previously, it took 66 votes to end a filibuster. Now it only takes 60. In the past to maintain a filibuster, one would actual have to stay on the floor and talk the entire time (hence Thurmonds over a day long speech). According to Senate rules, there are many things such as budget bills, reconciliation bills and declarations of war that cannot be filibustered. One of the other things that cannot be filibustered is Senate rule changes, which is what allows the current debate and option that has been described as the Nuclear Option, the Constitutional Option or the Byrd Option.

So to answer Mr. Coopman’s objections directly: Yes, the filibuster is historic, but the current 60 vote process is not. Nor is it historic to declare certain things taken up by the Senate as off-limits to filibusters, as that has been done numerous times. As to Republicans “chipping away” at this. I’m not sure what you are implying, but I am afraid Senate “minority rights” have been eroded in the past, almost exclusively by Democrats. I also do not believe this infringes on those rights, it does not prevent them from voiciing their opinion on a given judicial nominee. It merely prevents them from stopping an up-or-down vote.

The lack of airtime and copy space given to these facts, demonstrates yet again that the MSM is not interested in merely giving the media consumer all of the available facts and letting them decide. They insists on filtering the information through their own biases allowing us access to only the information that they deem worthwhile.

If this was anytime before now, they would once again be running the debate and steering the conversation. But today, their citadel has been taken. The monopoly is no more. Information is free and open to everyone and no amount of rule chagnes by Sen. Byrd or fact ignoring by the media is going to change that.

(For a brief history of filibuster changes go here.)

* This is not to imply that either Thurmond, at his death, or Byrd, presently, are racist, only that they both have an infamous history of racism. Thurmond ran for President as a Dixiecrat, opposing virtually every civil rights legislation. Byrd also opposed virtually every civil rights legislation and is the only former KKK member in the Senate.