Thursday, May 19, 2005

Charles Fried on Checks and Balances

Demagoguing the filibuster debate:

What then of checks and balances? That principle is a description of our constitutional structure, not a provision of the Constitution itself, where the term does not appear. In the debates of the constitutional convention and the Federalist, it describes the checking by one branch of government of the power and authority of another. Its use to describe the blocking power of a minority within one of the democratically elected branches -- rather than between them -- is therefore a rhetorical stretch. Remember that when used to prevent the Senate from voting on a nominee, the filibuster is not a device for assuring deliberation or second thoughts. It gives a Senate minority an absolute veto