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Burns: GOP Filibuster Fanatics Confuse Minority Rule with Minority Rights

Following the United States Senate’s rejection last night of voting rights legislation and changes to the filibuster, Senator M. Michael Rounds merrily tweeted that the Democratic Senate leaders “just lead their caucus on a failed mission to significantly alter Senate rules in an attempt to pass their liberal agenda on a simple majority vote.”

Translation: Senator Rounds and his leaders just lead their caucus on a successful mission to advance their conservative agenda on a simple minority vote.

SDSU professor emeritus of political science Dr. Bob Burns, responding to Senator John Thune’s defense of the filibuster a week ago, thinks both of South Dakota’s Senators’ minoritarianism seeks obstruction, not the compromise that the filibuster used to promise:

I cannot improve upon Sen. Thune’s defense of the filibuster, but we need to understand it is the GOP abuse of the filibuster practice that is currently the problem and not the intended purpose of the Senate filibuster practice.

The GOP Senate leadership is not interested in using the filibuster as leverage in seeking compromise or bipartisan legislation in the area of voting rights or social legislation. We see no evidence of GOP leadership offering to come to the table with Democratic Party leadership to hammer out differences regarding the pending legislation. The filibuster is being used instead as a tool of absolute obstruction of the law making process. Voting rights will not be further protected by the U.S. Congress as authorized by the U.S. Constitution and new legislation intended to “promote the welfare of the people “also authorized by the U.S. Constitution will not be approved because of the GOP assertion of minority rule over the U.S. Senate law making process which is not sanctioned by the U.S. Constitution.

Thune has confused minority rule with minority rights. The U.S. Constitution and laws of Congress afford many protections for the rights and liberties of minorities to temper the power of the majority as an essential element of our modern liberal democracy.

These minority rights and liberties are secured from governmental abuse or denial but constitutional minority rights do not extend to the minority party right to totally obstruct the U.S. Senate law making process. The U.S. Constitution sanctions the practice of majority rule as opposed to minority rule in ordinary congressional law making. All lawmakers should respect that principle [Dr. Bob Burns, “Senate Republicans Misusing the Filibuster,” Brookings Register, 2022.01.19].

It’s too bad the only minority the Republican Party cares about is itself.


  1. Richard Schriever 2022-01-20 07:40

    Being a member of a political minority is a CHOICE. Being a member of a racial minority, a gender minority, or any other form of individually inherent minority is not a choice. It is the right of non-choice, inherent rights that are constitutionally protected. Political minority “rights” are already protected in the very nature of the over representation of smaller populace states in the senate. The filibuster is a multiplication of the structurally inherent rights of small state representation in the Senate.
    It is TWICE the “protection” that other rights are protected at. THAT is what makes it heinous.

    Obstructing the performance of the US Government’s duties to the public – as a political minority is a CHOICE. The GOP has CHOSEN to obstruct the function of our government.

  2. Donald Pay 2022-01-20 09:27

    The solution is to abolish the US Senate. They don’t do a goddamn thing, so they can all go home and not do a goddamn thing there. I mean, really, Madison had the right idea with the “Virginia Plan.” It’s people that matter. States are just a leftover from colonial times. We got rid of state legislatures picking the Senators long ago. People vote, not the goddamn states. The Senate violates one person, one vote. If I were going to run for the Senate, I’d propose to abolish the goddamn thing. I bet I’d win, too.

  3. buckobear 2022-01-20 10:20

    Just remember, the republickan idea of compromise is “do what we want.”

  4. Eve Fisher 2022-01-20 10:30

    Thune, Rounds, et al, are fiddling while votes – and voting rights – burn.

  5. larry kurtz 2022-01-20 11:09

    I had Professor Burns in several classes in the mid 70s and during one of them I asked him whether the ritualized eating the body and drinking the blood of a long dead preacher was cannibalism. After the gasps from the other students subsided he assured me that it is not.

  6. cibvet 2022-01-20 11:14

    The Jim Crow era has been brought back by racist/bigoted repubs in spite of the supreme court declaring racism dead because a black president was elected. Justice Roberts should be ashamed, but then there is no shame in the pub party.

  7. mike from iowa 2022-01-20 11:20

    McCTurtle f##kface had this racist tidbit for public consumption…..

    “Well, the concern is misplaced,” McConnell said. “Because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.”

    African Americans aren’t real Americans. Racist much?

  8. All Mammal 2022-01-20 13:44

    It is said we hate what we fear. And we fear what we don’t understand. Therefore, I’m considering ordering for our scared elected officials some subscriptions of Jet Magazine, Dub Magazine, The Advocate, Aperture Magazine, and The Sun. Maybe once they are exposed to a little culture they won’t be so hell bent against anything that isn’t a mirror image of themselves.
    Male, Pale, and Stale is killing this planet. Maybe once they realize what they’re so afraid of is the very thing inside themselves we will get to work together and get our priorities straight.
    On another note, anybody hear back from John Kanda in regards to your message left on his voicemail to oppose the SDNG labor to build the MAGAt clubhouse shooting complex? Just curious.

  9. Arlo Blundt 2022-01-20 15:49

    The Republicans have become the “Segregation Forever” Party. The Party of Lincoln has forsaken not only the African American vote but the Hispanic and immigrant vote. It has become the minority Party of rural white people and frustrated seditionists. Only contrivances like the Filibuster and voter suppression can keep it in business.

  10. Porter Lansing 2022-01-20 20:17

    Koch Brothers have a large portfolio of rental properties.
    One of their most valuable is a Manchin in West Virginia.

  11. Mark Anderson 2022-01-21 13:07

    So true Porter…now Rounds and his buddies can do nothing and just collect their checks, they like the status quo. I’ve got mine screw you, go back to your place in line and no water for you either. Whoops that’s Georgia, sorry. Excepting the fact that Rounds can’t play golf with Trump any more, a pity. Minority rule forever. We can block and win, win with less votes, rigging the game works.

  12. Roger Elgersma 2022-01-21 17:25

    In elementary school civics class, I told my teacher that I did not think that the filibuster was democracy. It still is not. The only thing that changed is that the two parties do not work well together anymore so the filibuster has become even more obstructive to the will of the people.

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-01-21 19:04

    Agreed, Roger. The supermajority should be applied sparingly, if at all. The filibuster does not protect minority rights. All too often, it protect the rights of a minority of Senators who want to persecute much large minorities who tend not to vote for them.

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