The GOP’s Four Corners: Nuke ’em

If the Republicans insist on abusing the filibuster, it’s time to go nuclear.

Rachel Maddow has had it with Republican obstructionism, and I can’t really blame her.

Obviously, the Franken-Coleman lawsuit is part of this strategy: simply spend enough time denying Franken the seat in order to make filibusters more effective. When Norm Coleman took the job as a lobbyist for the loathsome Republican Jewish Coalition, many saw it as his acknowledgement of a loss. It was nothing of the kind: essentially, it was a form of money laundering, paying Coleman to keep the lawsuit going and giving him an income in the process.

If anything, the Senate GOP’s strategy resembles North Carolina coach Dean Smith’s old Four Corners Offense: make it take so long for the other team to do anything that it can’t do anything. (I say this as a UNC fan and acknowledging that Smith himself is a progressive Democrat: hmmm….maybe there’s an ad in that somewhere to take out Richard Burr next year.).

But the NCAA banned the Four Corners by instituting the shot clock, and the Senate can do the same.

As soon as the Minnesota Supreme Court rules Franken the winner and orders the Secretary of State to give him an election certificate, Senate Republicans will filibuster. (In contrast to others, I believe that the Minnesota courts are doing the right thing here: go through the entire contest process, turn square corners, do everything right. THEN tell Norm that he’s a loser anyway.)

Then it is Joe Biden’s turn. For reasons already explained in this space, he is on strong grounds to rule the filibuster out of order. Franken will be seated, bringing the Dems to 59.

There is little doubt at this point that everything else needs to be done through the budget reconciliation process. Any objection to including items in reconciliation via the Byrd Rule should be ruled out of order. They want to play games, we’ll show them how.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.