Disarm the Filibuster

filibuster reform

Joyce Appleby: Resistance to changing the pernicious rule that is stifling the will of the majority rests on a historical myth and both parties’ fear of being curtailed when they are in a minority.

The Founders Cared about the Majority Principle

james madison

Joyce Appleby: Senators are pondering partial reform of the filibuster, which is now routinely used to block Senate action. Historian Joyce Appleby suggests that if they want to bring the Senate in line with the founders’ original intent they might follow the lead of the Tea Party and go back to the beginning. In its early decades the U.S. Senate operated on the simple majority principle: no supermajorities, no filibusters.

The Urgency of a Senate Rule Change

senate gridlock

Joyce Appleby: More than 300 historians, political scientists, and law profs from colleges and universities throughout the country have signed a petition calling upon their Senators “to restore majority rule to the United States Senate by revising the rules that now require the concurrence of 60 members before legislation can be brought to the floor.”

Should Catholic Justices Recuse Themselves on Certain Cases?

abortion

If Sonia Sotomayer, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, joins the court she will turn its five Catholic members into a two-thirds majority. She will in fact be replacing one of the two Protestants who remained on the court. This dramatic change in the composition of the Supreme Court can be traced to the […]

Blame It All on Unintended Consequences

poverty-dinner

Why do economic downturns catch experts unawares? Even more intriguingly, why do they defy analysis after they’ve happened? Neither economists nor financiers can agree on why the world’s economies are in free fall today. More than 70 years later, there’s still no agreement on what caused the Great Depression. Not even in hindsight does consensus […]

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