Majority Rule?

One of the subjects our school children are learning less and less about is United States history --  dead white males, you know. But an ignorance of history keeps us from knowing the truth about important things, like the Constitution.

In the current battle over President Bush's nomination of Miguel Estrada for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the Constitution is taking a beating.

Most Senate Democrats have been conducting a filibuster against his confirmation. Fifty-five senators, including some Democrats, say they would vote to confirm this highly qualified man to the bench, but a minority of senators is frustrating the majority.

The constitution is built on the premise of majority rule. Thomas Jefferson -- the first Democrat-- had plenty to say about majority rule and how the concept set America apart from most other nations.

Here is what Jefferson said in 1817:

"The first principle of republicanism is that the will of the majority is the fundamental law of every society of individuals of equal rights. This law once disregarded, no other remains but that of force, which ends necessarily in military despotism."

On Thursday, Republicans called for a Senate vote. They won the majority, but lost the vote on cloture. For a minority to decide on this, or any other issue, is not only unconstitutional -- it's unconscionable.

When Bill Clinton was president, he got most of his federal judges confirmed, even though many Republicans didn't like their view of the Constitution. But apparently, the will of the majority no longer rules in the United States Senate.

With the Estrada filibuster, Democrats are trying to hold up the will of the majority. Only an outcry from the public will stop them. Or maybe it won't, since their prime constituency is a minority of special interest groups, not a majority of the people, or of their Senate colleagues.

And that's Column One for this week.

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