Saturday, June 04, 2005

A voice of reason in the land of illusion

A friend of mine wrote to Dr. Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, a few days after the bipartisan compromise over the president's appointments of federal judges. I thought it a particularly wise and diplomatic letter, and want to share it with you here. The writer agreed, so here it is:

Thursday morning

Dear Senator,

I think our democracy was founded on several principles, one of which is protection of minority rights. We are a nation that is governed by laws and principles, not governed wholly by the will of the majority and not a nation governed solely by the last vote taken.

When the Democrats were in power in the last decade, Republicans rightly utilized the rules of the Senate to delay or thwart the appointment of many judges. It was the Republicans who, I believe, opposed President Roosevelt's plan to increase the number of Supreme Court justices, thereby packing the Court with nominees who would have supported his partisan views. Republicans preserved our nation by using the rules of the Senate, the same rules you would today deny. Your view is short sighted; one day you again may be the minority party and you will want to represent your 200 million minority followers.

Your actions are ill advised and a threat to the democracy we have built over the last two centuries. Pressing for judicial intervention when it suits you, as in the Shaivo case, and preaching restraint at other times is unprincipled and unwise. I would urge your patience with our process.

Your actions have helped create a most divisive Congress, one in which trust and cooperation are no longer a basis for solving America's problems. Money and religious fanaticism have always influenced our process. With the current greed and the grab for power, these four factors seem to be driving forces on our current political landscape. I sincerely hope you will rein in these four horsemen before they carry you too far afield.


Stephen Karlan

Frist, meanwhile, continues to oppose the 14 senators who put their country and the Senate itself ahead of their parties. If you visit his Senate home page, you will see Frist appropriating an underlay of the Constitution itself for his position.

June 5 update:
Today's NYTimes writes of Frist's effort to step out from behind John McCain's shadow. It's a good read.

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