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Filibusters needed to make voice of minority heard

The Repub-lican majority in Congress is contemplating getting rid of filibusters to ensure a smoother confirmation process for judicial nominees and other individuals who need confirmation by the Senate. But such an action should be weighed very carefully; it is, after all, possible that those who now scream to get rid of filibusters may have to rely on them in the future, as Republicans may again find themselves in the minority some day.

Critics claim that the process is nothing more than a humongous waste of time, as the tactic is usually employed by the party holding a minority. This, they claim, impinges the majority from doing the job they were elected to perform.

But what is easily forgotten, especially in a time when Republicans hold comfortable majorities in both houses of Congress as well as the presidency, is that the minority was also democratically elected and deserves a means for representation.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is leading the charge of making nominees exempt to the filibuster rule. Sunday, Frist lobbied a group of conservatives to support ending the practice, which he claims is aimed against people of faith.

Once again, the Republican majority claims that only their party represents religious people. This claim cannot be made, as no party has a monopoly on faith, a term that often defies definition.

A filibuster often comes into play when one party attempts to thwart controversial judges or other officials from being confirmed.

President Bush recently re-nominated 12 candidates for the federal appeals court. However, a Democratic minority successfully blocked their confirmation during the president’s first term. Democrats argue the candidates hold extremist views and see filibusters as their only defense. The president re-nominated most of the judges who were not confirmed, knowing full well Democrats would oppose them. Now that this is happening, a rule change is proposed.

The tactic of changing the rules just because short-term goals cannot be achieved is a very dangerous one. If rules are being thrown out this fast, why pretend they matter in the first place?

The process is needed in order to stop the majority from dictating terms to the minority without any chance of negotiation. Otherwise a fair share of Americans would be subject to “taxation without representation,” and that can hardly be the goal.

But if Republicans want to experiment with rights that have been in place for centuries, they should not forget the elections to come. If they end up in the minority, which is only a matter of time, they will likely regret changing the rules.