When Democratic Congressman William Jefferson was caught with $90,000 cash in his freezer in 2009, many Republicans were sorely tempted to talk about the “culture of corruption” that supposedly existed in the Democratic Party. Michelle Malkin blogged about it, for example.
But wiser heads remained silent, other than expressing sorrow for Jefferson’s five daughters (Jefferson began serving a 13-year sentence in May).
Why? Because Republicans have had their own share of scandals. GOP Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham, for example, was sentenced to prison in 2005 for accepting $2.4 million in bribes.
That’s true of sex scandals, as well. For every former Rep. Anthony Weiner, there’s a former Sen. Larry Craig.
Which brings us to Senate rules. Democrats, frustrated with the filibuster rules that essentially require a supermajority (60 votes) to get anything done, want to change them.
They’re now suing in federal court to have the rules changed.
Four House (not Senate) Democrats and Common Cause, a left-leaning political group, call the rules “an accident of history,” and unconstitutional “because they are inconsistent with the principle of majority rule.”
The lawsuit doesn’t really have much of a chance.
“Federal courts have tossed out legal challenges to Senate rules in the past,” the Washington Post notes.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who once argued vociferously for the filibuster rules, now wants to change them. He’s been hinting about it in recent months, but now he openly says, “We’re going to change the rules. We cannot continue in this way.”
The Republicans are right — this time, that is, not the other time, when they were against the filibuster rules.
Slowing things down is precisely the point of the Senate. It’s supposed to be the more deliberative body. Gridlock isn’t the Senate’s vice, it’s the Senate’s greatest virtue.
Justice Antonin Scalia understand this.
“I hear Americans saying this nowadays, and there’s a lot of it going around,” Scalia told the Senate Judiciary Committee last fall. “They talk about a dysfunctional government because there’s disagreement ... and the Framers would have said, ‘Yes! That’s exactly the way we set it up. We wanted this to be power contradicting power because the main ill besetting us ... is an excess of legislation.’”
Sure, Reid is frustrated. But he should resist the temptation to change Senate rules.