Eschew (avoid, shun) filibuster - and partisan politics

Founder's letter published in USA TODAY
May 18, 2005 Page 10A
(Lead letter of four letters - other letters included)

Eschew (avoid, shun) filibuster - and partisan politics

Many voters are undoubtedly fed up with the ravage-politics of the two-party system. Amid all the vitriol slung by partisan zealots over the filibuster and confirmation of judicial nominees, it has become abundantly clear that the "tyranny of the majority" is nonsense and the "tyranny of the minority" is painfully real ("Qualified conservatives or judicial fanatics?" Our view; "It's time for up-or-down vote," Opposing view, Court nominees debate, Monday).

The Constitution does not extend the Senate's "advice and consent" role for presidential nominees and appointments beyond a simple majority vote. Surely advice and consent were never intended to be extended to the supermajority vote required for treaties, as willful senators would like.

Simply put, the filibuster is hardly an appropriate method for the most deliberative body of the Congress to use, particularly with its checkered history of political machinations, chicanery and self-serving interests against proposed legislation and judicial nominees.

It's time for the Senate and the rest of government to concentrate on what's best for America, particularly in these perilous times, rather than focusing on selfish interests, intimidation and gaining political advantage at any cost.

In addition to dispensing with the obstructionism of the filibuster, maybe it's time to replace the hopelessly contentious two-party system with the common sense of non-partisan elections and government, and the collective judgment of the voters. Contrary to elitist belief, we are not stupid.

Daniel B. Jeffs
Apple Valley, Calif.

Preserve minority voice

As we reach a new level of partisan politics in the USA, the Senate-majority Republicans want to remove the last voice of the people who don't share their opinion.

The so-called nuclear option, a way to silence the minority party in the Senate by eliminating its right to filibuster, should never be undertaken. It goes against all the things our great nation stands for: voice in government, liberty and justice. Our Constitution was designed with specific checks and balances so that if one political party were able to take more power, there'd always be a voice of dissent.

I am concerned about the lack of balance that the invocation of the nuclear option would create. Each American has entrusted his or her right to be heard to members of Congress.

Silencing Democratic senators would deprive a large number of Americans their say.

Sarah Woodard
Macedon, N.Y.

Let majority rule

USA TODAY's editorial on judicial nominees is biased garbage. If President Clinton's nominees required 51 votes for confirmation, why should President Bush's require 60?

The editorial argues that a handful of Democrats should be required to confirm GOP judges. This could easily be turned around. If, as Democrats maintain, these judges are "out of the mainstream," there are enough moderate Republicans in the Senate to shoot them down. So vote!

Democrats don't want to vote - nor do Republicans-in-name-only - because then American voters will know where they stand and can act accordingly in the next election.

If Americans elect a Republican president, Senate and House of Representatives, how can anyone justify Democrats getting to pick Bush's judges?

This is an argument you will lose every time.

Susan Boyer
Brevard, N.C.

Others were denied vote

In his opposing view, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., argues for allowing judicial nominees to have their confirmation debated and voted on by the full Senate. He says that until 2003, "every judicial nominee who cleared the Senate's committee process received the courtesy of that vote."

What Frist conveniently neglects to mention is that the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee blocked several of President Clinton's nominees in committee, thereby denying them the "courtesy" of a vote.

I hope that the majority of Americans recognize the disingenuousness of Republican claims of unfairness in the current situation. Obviously, if the nominees don't get through the committee, they never reach the full Senate, and therefore there is no filibuster - or vote.

Stephen Dickman
Sarasota, Fla.