Anti-Nuclear Option Filibuster Rolls On

Charlie Burr

Just taking a break from the filibuster over at the Senator Smith’s headquarters - we had a few good stories already this morning, with more likely on the way. We’ve been talking for a few hours now and have lined up speakers to go throughout the day.

For this morning’s kick off, we had Charlie Hinkle, the top Constitutional lawyer in the state, Marki Maizels of the National Council of Jewish Women, Andrea Cano of United Church of Christ’s Peace and Justice Action Network, local bus organizer and fortuitously named Jefferson Smith, and Rabbi David Kominsky. Members of the Lewis and Clark debate team led off in the inaugural filibuster and were fantastic.

If you were planning on coming down and speaking, Erik’s the guy to talk to, as he can likely plug you into a speaking spot. And I know that many of you have no shortage of opinions- come share your thoughts with Smith’s office and the world!

Oregonians are letting their voices be heard, but is Gordon Smith listening? We’ll find out soon, but in the meantime, don’t let up. The vote’s been pushed back until tomorrow and remains too close to call. Your voice matters. And again, if you haven’t called Smith’s office recently, his number is (503) 326-3386.

  • Bill Holmer (unverified)

    It boggles my mind that the R's don't just force the D's to actually filibuster and demonstrate to everyone the depth of their obstructionist agenda.

  • Yoram (unverified)

    Yeah, shit, those Democratic Senators actually standing up for what they believe.

    Sheesh, why do they even go to work? Don't they realize they only represent more than half of Americans? Don't they realize they should roll over and die, and just submit to President Bush imposing his will and imposing life-term extremist judges?

    When will the public wake up and stop believing in checks and balances?

    Boggles my mind.

  • JS (unverified)

    Anyone else notice that error in the OPB story?

    "President Bush has appointed about 200 federal judges, with fewer than a dozen blocked by a filibuster."

    Thus far, haven't the Democrats only THREATENED the use of the filibuster?

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    That is not an error. The modern filibuster consists of much more than the classic, "Mr. Smith" extended floor speech.

    Dilatory motions, lengthy amendment lists, and other procedural motions all constitute the filibuster.

    Essentially, the threat is the filibuster.

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    Paul, I'm with Bill... Why don't the Republicans actually force the Dems to stand there and talk? They've gotta cave eventually, right?

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    Get on over to the filibuster!! It's going strong at 121 SW Salmon, outside Sen. Gordon Smith's office at the World Trade Center.

    Where else can you get your "15 minutes of fame" so easily (and righteously!) I did my 15 minute speaking slot earlier this afternoon, then yielded the floor to a fellow filibuster-er. You can help keep the speech going.

    Yes, we need YOU to keep the filibuster going well into the evening. Just stop by and take a turn. Or to find out when you can step in, call Jesse at 503-381-7173 or Erik at 541-250-3745.

    (P.S. I would differ with Paul on his definition of the modern filibuster. It is not the classic "Mr. Smith" speech nor is it lengthy amendments etc and "threats." The modern filibuster entails requiring a cloture motion, which requires 60 votes to invoke. Failing that, unlimited debate -- a Senator's prerogative, absent unanimous consent -- on the underlying matter can not be cut off.)

  • Jenny (unverified)

    I have to say that faux filibustering may not make good tv -- i.e. reading recipies, etc. may not draw folks to our side if they extrapolate and think that's what the Democrats are doing.

    It plays into the whole "up or down vote" thing. Instead of voting, you're reading recipies. Who wants congressfolks to do that?

    Only wonks get that it's about checks and balances. Maybe a media hit around the destruction of a balancing scale, like the TV commercials I've seen on the net?

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    Actually, people do get that this debate is about "checks and balances." That's not just my opinion, quantifiable market research data shows this pretty clearly. By an overwhelming margin, Americans do not want to see the "nuclear option" and the most commonly sited reason is the need to preserve checks and balances.

    Today's event was visual- even though it got a lot more print and radio hits. If you have a better idea of a way to get on network TV in the next 24 hours, I say go for it. The vote's going to be close, and Smith remains a prime target.

    Although the event today was great (it's still going btw), it's not like this is the only action we're taking either. NARAL Pro-choice America has generated thousands of calls from around the state and have been working diligently with coalition partners to get the word out.

  • Gregor (unverified)

    There was little less then outrage when I suggested we look around for someone to oppose Gordon Smith, well, how do you like him now?

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    On a day when we are critiquing Tim Hibbits for uninformed poll results about "Clean Elections," need we even start on public knowledge levels about checks and balances?


    The Dems don't need to stand and debate. Instead they'll just propose 10,000 dilatory motions and make constant quorum calls.

  • Snarky Intern (unverified)

    Neat thing that Charlie Burr put together -- good idea. The media of course is not riding hard on the issue -- they're all deathly afraid of being called "liberal." An old and now very inaccruate talking point. But it has the media scared enough that they're not covering a lot of stuff.

  • Rob F (unverified)

    If Gordon Smith is willing to go along with an agenda that breaks the rules of the senate to eliminate minority rights in a body that has honored those rights, through thick and thin, for over 200 years, then Gordon Smith is not a moderate.

    If Gordon Smith is not a moderate conservative, then he has no business representing Oregonians in congress. We need to find someone else.

    This is an important decision, and needs to be framed and presented appropriately to his electorate so the extreme position he's supporting is evident.

    He's quoted in the Guardian as having said: "I think to do otherwise has a chilling effect not only on the meaning of elections, but as to the intellectual vigor of the judicial branch of the government."

    So it's ok to countenance the rubber-stamping of jurists whose views are absurdly outside the mainstream in order to preserve "intellectual vigor." There are plenty of smart judges out there who aren't wackos, Senator Smith. This isn't a good reason to break the senate. Nice try. We know who owns you now.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Jean Horne wrote:

    Please consider changing your schedule for the next couple of days to help out starting this Tuesday, May 24, at 12 noon. You can sign up for the Citizen Filibuster to Stop the Right-Wing Power Grab I'm hosting at:

    moveon filibuster

  • LT (unverified)

    If Gordon Smith is not a moderate conservative, then he has no business representing Oregonians in congress. We need to find someone else.

    Certainly between now and 2008 Democrats can find someone who is charismatic, appeals to both urban and rural, and is able to debate Gordon Smith and show (positively on issues, not by sniping or attack ads) we could be better represented in the Senate.

    That person should be able to address positive proposals and comparisons, such as "Gordon Smith's position has been, Joe Democrat's proposal is..".

    Never forget that Smith won that seat because there was not enough debate on specific issues in the primary. The DSCC had chosen someone who had money and business connections and who won by outspending 3 gentlemen with political experience and ideas.

    It was a dispiriting primary (the other 3 would be in the Oregonian with their detailed proposals and at the end it would say this turkey had no detailed proposal). A friend aptly described the general election as "the slick one vs. the chinless one".

    Look at how Mike Kopetski defeated Denny Smith: long experience in politics as someone very clear on what he believed in (which included his hunting experience as a boy in Pendleton as well as his work with Wayne Morse and others as a young man and his time as a state rep. ), well organized campaign, and also some luck--Denny doing things that were terminally stupid.

    Look at how Wyden was elected to the Senate--long experience and enough adaptability to listen to the complaints of those who knew him well and to reject the idea of a nasty campaign. The 100% positive campaign probably saved him, although I knew people who said he was too nasty for too long. It was a case where consultants did NOT know best.

  • Rob F (unverified)

    There are a lot of people who still don't know the full history behind what's happening in the senate.

    This excellent article in the Washington Post details why democrats had to resort to the filibuster to keep a small minority of extreme candidates out of the federal courts.

    In brief, the republicans (acting through Orrin Hatch, chair of the Judiciary committee) have done the following:

    1. Reversed the position he had held from assuming the chairmanship in 1994 that one senator from the home state of a nominee could legitimately quash a candidate, keeping them from getting out of committee. This was increased to requiring both senators in 2001 under a republican president. After seven years, what changed? Who was in power.
    2. Changed the objections of both senators to advisory only, meaning that even if both senators from the home state of a nominee opposed them, they could still be forwarded by the judiciary committee for a floor vote. (Think Janice Rogers Brown.)
    3. Eliminated Rule IV, which stipulated that at least one member of the judiciary committee minority had to vote for a candidate for them to get a floor vote.

    With these three changes, in order to have a voice at all on jurists, democrats have had to resort to the filibuster. Republicans quashed over 70 Clinton nominees in committee. Democrats haven't done any such thing, they're just trying to avoid getting steamrolled.

    The Bush administration's response to the filibuster of less than a dozen nominees? On reelection, to renominate candidates already opposed, because, basically, they're spoiling for a fight, and they want to remove any remainder of the democrats voice in the sentate. So much for two party government.

    This is what Gordon Smith is countenancing. The longer he stays in Washington, the harder it'll be to beat him. Who can beat him in 2008?

  • Grant (unverified)
    <h2>It seems that there are some interesting uneducated comments and some that are though threw. I'm studing government in school (101), Fulfilling a CPG degree. I find your site to be a good objective contrast to what I'm learning in school. Currently working on a reaction paper on the "nuclear option". Your views and submitted comments have been a great assistance....thanks</h2>

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