Saturday, March 19, 2016


The U.S. Senate (DEMs & GOP) just doesn't get it! The argument that the Constitution doesn't really require the Senate to act on advise and consent is obviously false. Likewise, the argument that DEMs did it, and would do it again if the tables were turned, is silly and childish. 

This kind of "tit for tat" behavior is what has demeaned the sometimes called "worlds greatest deliberative body" to the likes of a school yard brawl. It is precisely the reason that has led to rise in popularity of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders -- both sides want action for their positions -- but nothing happens because of gummed up, arcane rules and procedures that prevent majority rule and discourage bipartisan action on anything. Unfortunately, the election of either Trump or Sanders is not going to fix the problem and their lofty promises for change will end up in the typical trash can of political rhetoric.

The Constitution and the Founders certainly envisioned the Senate to provide an "advise and consent" role to appointments, treaties, etc. -- otherwise they wouldn't have included it. The Senate also has specific rules on how it carries out its advise and consent responsibilities -- Judiciary Committee hearing(s) and referral to the full Senate for a vote. The only argument seems to be whether they can delay their responsibilities indefinitely.

Taken to the extreme, the idea that the Senate does not have to provide an "advise and consent" role on appointments, treaties, etc would bring government to its knees and deny the public its right to a functioning government. In effect, it would instill in the Senate and extreme power over the Executive Branch not envisioned in the intricate system of "checks and balances" included in the Constitution.

Further, the "Senate" is a body of 100 members. Even if for arguments sake, the Constitution envisioned that the Senate did not have to exercise an "advise and consent" role, the "Senate" as a body has not expressed its decision to take this extreme course of refusing to act. So far as I know, this is simply the individual decision of the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Certainly, the Constitution and Founders did not envision giving such extreme power to one individual -- not even the President of the United States and certainly not the Senate Majority Leader.

If the "Senate" is going to take such extreme action it should at least put a roll call vote on record that it is the decision of the body and not the decision of one lone Senator.

Next, we must ask, if the Senate does not act in accordance with the Constitution, what public recourse is available to challenge or correct their action. Most scholars say the Senators are immune to legal action (even for doing nothing) and the public lacks standing to sue.

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