Filibuster abuse destabilizes government and is unconstitutional

Filibuster has become a popular tool for legislators. “Republicans have held the U.S. Senate hostage despite their minority status and losses in the last election,” says Merton Bernstein, emeritus professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “Indeed, the threat of a filibuster enables the minority to exact concessions that the electorate had already rejected in several elections. This sabotage of the democratic process not only shuts down the legislative process, short circuits the confirmation of presidential nominees, but also threatens large foreign purchases of U.S. bonds that lower interest rates for federal, state and business borrowing.”

Bush’s State of Union may be least consequential in a generation, suggests congressional expert

Steven SmithPresident George W. Bush’s State of the Union address on Jan. 23 may be remembered as one of the least consequential State of the Union addresses in a generation, but its presentation could open the door on a period of real legislative compromise as both parties struggle to boster reputations in advance of the 2008 elections, suggests Steven Smith, an expert on congressional politics at Washington University in St. Louis. Video Available

Study debunks journalistic image of rich ‘Latte’ Democrats, poor ‘NASCAR’ Republicans

Fueled by the simplicity of red state-blue state election maps, some pundits have leaped to the conclusion that America is experiencing a landmark shift in traditional political allegiances, with poor, working-class voters leaving the Democratic Party to become “NASCAR Republicans” while wealthier voters join the ranks of an increasingly elite bunch of liberal, limousine-driving “Latte Democrats.” Not so, says the WUSTL co-author of a new study of how income influences state-by-state voting patterns. More …

Supreme Court campaign finance decision may hinge on flawed database

GibsonWhen the U.S. Supreme Court issues its much-awaited decision on the constitutionality of the controversial McCain-Feingold campaign reform legislation, its arguments may hinge on testimony regarding the validity of a political advertising database used to push for the legislation. Supporters of the legislation claim the database provides clear and compelling evidence that McCain-Feingold reforms do not infringe upon free speech, but this is far from the truth, according to James L. Gibson, a Washington University political scientist who served as expert witness when the case was heard in a lower court. His analysis found the database to be “riddled with internal errors and inconsistencies.”

Republicans have nothing to gain from planned 30-hour Senate debate, says congressional expert

SmithSenate Republicans and Democrats are preparing for a 30-hour marathon debate on judicial nominations starting about 6 p.m. Nov. 12 and running as long as early morning on Friday, Nov. 14. Republican senators say they want the country to know that Democrats are stalling judicial nominations made by President Bush. Democrats have filibustered on four recent Bush appeals court nominations and may use similar tactics on future nominees. Congressional expert Steven Smith says this is business as usual in Congress and that Republicans have used the same tactics in the past.