27.2.11

A NULLIFICATION CRISIS.  According to Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley, the party of antebellum South Carolina is at it again.
Republicans interpreted their overwhelming victories as a mandate to change the course of the states. Specifically, they set about undoing decades of laws put in place by Democrats to favor labor unions over taxpayers.

Instead of staying on the field to defend their positions, Democratic lawmakers in both states fled to neighboring Illinois, where they hope to win with their absence what they couldn't at the ballot box — namely, the right to control policymaking.

Without the Democrats, the legislatures don't have the required quorums to pass budget measures, including cutting pay and benefits for public workers.

The lawmakers in exile call this a defense of democracy. In truth, it's a step toward anarchy. If it catches on as a practice, it will officially end government by, of and for the people.
The notion of checks and balances necessarily implies tensions, as do the competing principles of majority rules and minority safeguards.  Rules of order that specify a quorum, and rules of procedure that provide for filibuster, are ways to contain those tensions.

Spats over quorum calls and filibusters are nothing new.  It's also nothing new to observe holders of a temporary majority seeking to overturn the existing protections.  If you're Harry Reid tonight, you ought to be thinking very carefully about whether to give yourself powers that might be in the hands of Scott Walker's fellow-followers next year.

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