The Hypocrisy of Common Cause
On Wednesdays, I noted that Common Cause has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the filibuster, a procedural tactic used in the Senate to stall legislation, is unconstitutional. This lawsuit was filed despite the fact that Article I, Section 5, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution allows each chamber of Congress the right to craft its own rules.
Despite that glaring fact, Politico quoted Stephen Spaulding, staff counsel for Common Cause, saying, “[The Senate] cannot adopt their own rules, and that’s an issue we think the courts should settle.” It’s a political point more than a lawsuit that they hope will result in any actual change in Senate rules.
But here is the kicker, and perhaps the most important point about Common Cause. Doug Mataconis notes that, when the filibuster was threatened by Senate Republicans over judicial nominees seven years, Common Cause defended use of the tactic:
Common Cause strongly opposes any effort by Senate leaders to outlaw filibusters of judicial nominees to silence a vigorous debate about the qualifications of these nominees, short-circuiting the Senate’s historic role in the nomination approval process.
“The filibuster shouldn’t be jettisoned simply because it’s inconvenient to the majority party’s goals,” said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. “That’s abuse of power.”
So, not only is the filibuster good when used to block judicial nominations, as was the case in 2005 when Senate Democrats prevented 10 of George W. Bush’s nominees from going forward to confirmation, attempting to get rid of it was an “abuse of power.” Oh hypocrisy, thy name is Common Cause.
Senate Republicans, led by then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), were wrong in 2005 to try to limit use of the filibuster just as current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Common Cause are now.