Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid forced the Republicans to make some concessions on the use of the filibuster on several Obama administration nominations for various non-judicial posts earlier this week, but a Rand Paul appearance on Fox News elicited one of the weirdest arguments for the filibuster you’ll ever hear. The interview was done by the astonishingly stupid Eric Bolling:
“For that reason, to call attention to what they’re trying to do, especially if you’re in the minority you an do that and, frankly, if you didn’t have a filibuster, what would stop President Obama from appointing say Al Sharpton as attorney general or Rachel Maddow on the Supreme Court,” host Eric Bolling added.
“Right,” Paul responded. “If you were to get an extremist like that, someone with an extreme point of view, the majority here could pass it with 51 votes, but with the filibuster then it would take 60 votes, so you’re less likely to get someone with those kinds of extreme views to be nominated and approved by the Senate.”
What would stop President Obama from doing that? How about the fact that neither Sharpton nor Maddow are attorneys? And Rand Paul gets his history wrong:
“I think the leverage of using the filibuster to get information and to make the President obey the law, I think it is a very important tool and our Founding Fathers put it in there for precisely this reason,” Paul said on Fox News.
The Founding Fathers didn’t “put it in there.” There is not a word about it in the Constitution, only that the Senate may make its own rules. The first Senate rules, in 1789, did not include the filibuster; in fact, the rules included a motion to end debate and move the question to the floor for a vote. It wasn’t until 1806 that the rules were changed to make a filibuster even possible and it took until the 1830s for even the threat of a filibuster to be made. It wasn’t until the 1850s that filibusters became even an occasional tactic.