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.”

The Awkward Confluence of Capitalism and Democracy

Ron Wolff: If PG&E believes so strongly in democracy, shouldn’t it let its shareholders vote on whether to support a campaign like this? Don’t hold your breath. If capitalism thrives because it promotes market efficiency, what’s wrong with letting governments operate utilities if they can do it better than private enterprise?

Reconciliation Is Conventional, Not Nuclear

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia)

Richard M. Mathews: With the death of the public option in the Senate version of the health care reform bill, more attention is being paid to the budget reconciliation process. The House-Senate conference could bring back the public option, but a filibuster could still kill it. The reconciliation process would allow the bill to pass with a simple majority of 51 votes rather than the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster.

California Democrats: “Spreading the Pain” from Sacramento

Karen Bass, Darryl Steinberg

When his term mercifully expires next year, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will be leaving the Golden State in the worst condition than at any time its history. If Schwarzenegger and his right-wing Republican co-conspirators get their way (as they always seem to do), they’ll gut every social program and educational institution in the state in […]

Ending the Annual Budget Impasse Ritual

terminator

The California budget process is broken due to the requirement for a two-thirds vote to pass the budget. I would like to suggest a different procedure that preserves the minority protections of the two-thirds requirement while encouraging negotiation and ensuring that there definitely will be a budget passed. Proposal: If no budget passes by the […]

Federal Precedent Provides Logic to Nix Prop 8

Proposition 8

Brian E. Gray, writing for the Los Angeles Times, sees something cool: The long history of the battle for equality for all in this country includes many court fights — some that pro-justice forces have won. A particular early-1990s fight in Colorado, Gray says, may offer another avenue for challenging California’s unjust same-sex marriage ban. […]

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