Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Students of American politics are about to witness a real battle royal in the Senate. The use of the filibuster is the issue. We are not talking about the filibuster as used by Southern Democrats to preserve segregation. That filibuster was the parliamentary standby resorted to by Democratic reactionaries for much of the 20th century. This filibuster is the parliamentary standby resorted to by liberal Democrats. They use it to preserve not segregation but rather judge-made law. They are the reactionaries of the 21st century.

 In the federal system of government, created by our Constitution, the legislature makes the law, the president executes the law and the courts judge whether the law is constitutional. Yet as the Democrats' power in legislatures all over the land has slipped into minority status, they have increasingly favored the courts to make law. That is not very democratic, but then neither was segregation. In the Senate today, Democrats comprise the minority just as Southern Democrats once did. Thus like the Southern Democrats, they must resort to the filibuster.

 Not surprisingly, the liberal Democrats use the filibuster to preserve a form of governance as antithetical to the Constitution as segregation once was -- that is to say, judge-made law. Increasingly laws made in the legislatures have reflected the wishes of the growing American majority, the conservative majority. Judge-made law is the law of the Democratic minority. The battle royal we are about to see in the Senate is essentially about whether the Democrats can continue their rear guard action against progress or, to use another of the words liberal Democrats have long thought they held the franchise on, change .

 Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is ready to end the impasse over seven of the president's judicial nominees in the Senate. They are being held up by the Democrats' threat to filibuster against them, a filibuster that takes 60 votes to shut off. Frist is threatening to pass a parliamentary rule that judicial nominees cannot be filibustered against. Creating that rule takes only 51 votes, which he believes he has. There is talk from some senators such as Sen. Trent Lott that a compromise is advisable, but no compromise is possible.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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