The recent blocking of the nomination of a second emminently qualified nominee, Richard Cordray, to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau by Senate Republicans, using the threat of fillibuster, has been referred to as the act of nullification by several observers. See the article by James Fallows, for example: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/12/a-process-that-is-running-out-of-control-the-new-nullification-crisis/249754/

This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue. Abuse of the cloture rules (requiring 60 votes on legislation to avoid fillibuster in the Senate), in order to nullify the implementation of enacted legislation (here the Dodd-Frank finance reforms), can be undertaken by either party when in the minority. Democrat Senate minorities could just as easily pay back their Republican colleagues by blocking implementation of any Republican-passed legislation.

There is no Constitutional authorization for cloture, and it does not exist at all in the House, where majority rule carries the day. What is good for the House ought to be good for the Senate. Instead, we are witnessing a tyranny of the minority that was never contemplated by the Constitution. And we are witnessing an abrogation of Senators’ obligation to uphold the Constitution and enforce the duly adopted laws of this country. Once again the rule of law is being made a mockery, and the country’s progress is being held hostage to ideology.

One Response so far.

  1. Some writers on this topic concede that both bodies of congress may conduct business as they see fit, but the issue then is whether we hold any elected officials responsible for tactics which encourage deliberation or discourage it. Maybe you disagree and think abuse of cloture can be challenged? I find the actions used deplorable and petty, quite honestly, by either party.