Death of the Filibuster

A couple good columns this morning from before the actual action.  First, Greg Koger:

A “right” is meaningless if it can be abolished when someone actually tries to use it. If Republicans are willing to abolish the right to filibuster Supreme Court nominations so they can force President Trump’s nominees through the Senate, Democrats lose nothing by making them follow through on their threat. Indeed, this “nuclear option” improves the debate over nominations by making them more transparent…

Since the 1960s, there has been an ideological struggle over the composition of the Supreme Court, but this war has mostly been waged in the shadows. Senators have acquiesced in every nomination that reached the Senate floor except Robert Bork’s in 1987. This deference, combined with the Republicans’ willingness to “go nuclear” to force Trump’s nominees through the chamber, means that the minority party is unlikely to have much influence on future nominations, with or without the “right” to filibuster. The Senate is better off without this farce.

The real constraint on nominations lies in the democratic process. Even when nominees say as little as possible about issues or cases, as Neil Gorsuch did, senators know the real question is whether to continue the direction of the Roberts court in striking down campaign-finance laws, granting religious exemptions from regulations to for-profit corporations, restricting abortion, and allowing states free rein to manipulate electoral rules to advantage the party in power.

And EJ Dionne:

Why are Democrats filibustering Judge Neil Gorsuch? Because they’ve had enough with the politics of power-grabbing and bullying.

At the root of this fight is a long-term conservative effort to dominate the Supreme Court and turn it to the political objectives of the right.

This is thus about far more than retaliation, however understandable, for the Senate Republicans’ refusal to give even a hearing to Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the seat Gorsuch would fill. Behind the current judicial struggle lies a series of highly politicized Supreme Court rulings…

So let’s can all of these original-sin arguments about who started what and when in our struggles over the judiciary. From Bush v. Gore to Citizens United to Shelby County, it is the right wing that chose to thrust the court into the middle of electoral politics in an entirely unprecedented and hugely damaging way.

And the Republican-led Senate was ready to use any means necessary to hold on to this partisan advantage. When Obama chose Garland for the court, he picked the nominee Republicans themselves had said they could confirm…

In the coming days, we will hear moans about how terrible filibustering a Supreme Court choice is. Democrats will be dismissed as catering to “their base.” Justified outrage over the blockade against Garland will be reduced to score-settling, as if those who started a fight should be allowed to recast themselves as pious, gentle peace-lovers when the other side dares to strike back…

It’s said that with the odds against them in this fight, progressives would be wise to back off now and wait for the next battle. But graciousness and tactical caution have only emboldened the right. It’s past time to have it out. From now on, conservatives must encounter tough resistance as they try to turn the highest court in the land into a cog in their political machine.

Yep.  Yep. The Republicans were going to get Gorsuch.  Period.  But, damn, there’s got to be some consequences for them running roughshod all over norms.  Had Democrats not filibustered, that would have just encouraged even more norm-breaking from Republicans.

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Stupid politics, version MMCVI

Pretty sure I’ve written about our stupid NC law limited craft brewers before (I don’t like any beer– craft or not– but damn do I hate stupid laws).  This Charlotte Observer article is about the interest group lobbying fight between the craft brewers and the beer distributors.  Only one side actually has a sensible argument:

The brewers, led by Charlotte’s John Marrino of Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and Todd and Suzie Ford of NoDa Brewing, want to change the law that forces them to contract with distributors once their annual production hits 25,000 barrels. They say that’s not only costly but would lead to curtailed growth and employee layoffs. They support House Bill 500, which would raise the cap…

“For a Republican, to me this is a classic free market exercise,” said Graham, who plans to talk with legislative leaders.

It’s also a classic free market exercise for a Democrat.  And an example of needless, rent-seeking over-regulation at the behest of the wholesalers that suits no political principle, except the one about the wholesalers being huge political donors in recent years.

So, what’s their argument for preserving the status quo:

Tim Kent, executive director the Beer & Wine Wholesalers, said his group will mount its own grassroots campaign with its 5,600 employees, who live in legislative districts across the state.

The brewery production issue, he said, “affects our business and affects our livelihood.”

Got that?  5600 people in the Beer and Wine Wholesale business stand to have their livelihood affected.  No matter that the policy makes no sense, just, hey, that’s 5600 jobs (not like they’d all disappear anyway).  Maybe the wholesalers should spend less on lobbying and just give out some money to these 5600 people.  Anyway, the idea that we should have a stupid policy just because some portion of 5600 people across a state would stand to lose their jobs or have less income is really just ridiculous.

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