Wednesday, September 19, 2007

GOP blocks vote to restore Habeas Corpus

By Ken Hart
The Senate wasn't able to restore the habeas corpus provision (you know, one of those little things that makes America, well, America).

A short time ago, all of the Democrats and a few Republicans voted to give "military detainees" the right to challenge their imprisonment in federal court, but they didn't reach the 60-vote "supermajority" to beat a hypothetical GOP filibuster.

Did this supermajority stuff happen overnight? Back in the old days -- say 10 years ago -- old wobbly Senators would've needed to stand up and actually, you know, filibuster for hours to get their way. Now all anyone has to do is threaten to filibuster. What a lazy nation we've become. Make them work for it!

What I find interesting -- aside from the carefully considered decision by many Republicans that protecting the country and preserving the Constitution are mutually exclusive -- is how the media has bought into the supermajority silliness. Consider the Associated Press report, which says, "The 56-43 vote against the bill, by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa.,..." The truth is that it was a 56-43 vote for the bill, since last time I checked, more than 50 votes in a body of 100 constitutes a majority. Just because the majority of Senators couldn't reach 60 votes doesn't mean the Senate voted "against" the bill.

The account at The Washington Post get the terminology right and describes it clearly in the lead: "A Republican filibuster in the Senate today shot down a bipartisan effort to restore the right of terrorism suspects to contest their detentions and treatment in federal courts, underscoring the Democratic-led Congress's difficulty with terrorism issues." Not so hard to write, is it?

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