The John Adams Society

Christopher T. Wolff

Chairman

Jason D. Hoffman

Secretary

G. Larry Colson Jr.

Chief Whip

Marina Wolff

Chancellor

MAY 2017

“Now most people cannot tell when an oyster is done. They do not know when it has been fried enough.”

– Huey Long, on the floor of the US Senate

THE ENEMY OF PROGRESS is what we should call the filibuster. An arcane set of rules enacted not by the Constitution, but by the Senate itself. In fact, the opportunity to filibuster didn’t exist for more than 25 years until Aaron Burr argued for modified rules that lacked a way to end debate. The specific mechanisms have gone through several modifications, but ever since Burr's changes the Senate has operated under rules that allow the minority to prevent legislation from moving forward.

Recently though we have seen cracks in the power of the filibuster. Harry Reid was able to push through changes to stop the filibuster on Appellate Court judge nominations. Mitch McConnell and the Republicans were able to use the same changes to seat Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. The filibuster remains intact for regular legislation for now, but there is no reason why the Senate cannot drive a stake through the heart of the filibuster. Then, like at the time of the Nation’s founding, a simple majority of Senators will be able to express the will of the People through legislation! 

ON THE OTHER HAND, whoever said that enacting rules based on a simple majority was a good idea? We should seek to strengthen the filibuster, not eliminate it. Perhaps one day we can even get filibuster rules enacted in the House and, just maybe, even enshrined directly into the Constitution. We do not have to look back very far into history to remember a time when the ability of a minority to slow down an advancing agenda was very much an advantage. Imagine if no new legalization could be passed without a 75% majority in the House and Senate! Not only would we be far less inundated with new laws, but it would make a Presidential veto irrelevant.

THE CHAIRMAN, preparing to read from his phone book, has called a debate to settle to topic:

RESOLVED:  Good Riddance to the Filibuster!

The Debate will be held on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017, at the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, in Saint Paul. The Chancellor will preside over drinks beginning at seven o’clock p.m. The debate will begin at half past seven. There is no dress code, however gentlemen who wish to speak must wear a tie; ladies are encourage to adhere to a similar sartorial standard. For those gentlemen arriving sans tie yet wishing to discourse on the resolution, the Purveyor of Ties will keep on hand several remarkable selections. Questions regarding debate caucus procedures of about the John Adams Society itself may be directed to the Chairman at (651) 494-9008 or the Secretary at (651) 245-6991.