For two things, basically: for insisting that utterly unchecked executive power be confronted where the Founders meant it to be: in the Congress. After Eric Holder’s pathetic, insulting, incoherent and downright stupid letter, the only option was to grind Brennan’s nomination to a halt. On a matter like the president’s insistence that he have the right to kill another US citizen without due process, this is what the filibuster is for, even if it prevents nothing in the end. It’s designed to register dissent strong enough to merit a physical endurance worthy of the cause.
You have a fundamental constitutional issue here; and a clear Senate response that helps highlight and bring to broader public attention the scandal that is Eric Holder’s contempt for core constitutional values, laced with derision and sarcasm and ignorance. Take it away, Conor!
Any thinking person can see that Holder’s letter is non-responsive, evasive, and deliberately manipulative in its sly reassurances, right down to the rhetorically powerful but substantively nonsensical invocation of 9/11. (Being more subtle about it than Rudy Giuliani doesn’t make it right.) To credulously accept this sort of response, on an issue as important as this one, is behavior unfit for any citizen of a free country, where safeguarding the rule of law is a civic responsibility.
This is a righteous cause for a classic filibuster. And this is a core political issue. Now look at the GOP’s current routine use of the filibuster the same day:
[Mitch McConnell] blocked the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the D.C. circuit court by filing a piece of paper.
The first is a mark of conviction; the second of cynicism. I prefer the freshman’s approach to the Minority Leader’s myself.
(Photo: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) listens as colleagues speak during a press conference by Republican senators on a balanced budget amendment at the U.S. Capitol June 29, 2011 in Washington, DC. Republicans are urging their Democratic colleagues to support a balanced budget amendment. By Win McNamee/Getty Images.)