The U.S. Senator who has threatened to reduce the power of the filibuster is himself the object of a filibuster—of sorts.
Students at <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Princeton University—the alma mater of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)—began a mock filibuster April 26. It’s still going on due to the participation of students, faculty, regional politicians and others.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
The participants are protesting Sen. Frist’s stated interest in using the “nuclear option” to stop his fellow senators from filibustering certain of President Bush’s judicial nominees.
The “nuclear option” is actually a parliamentary procedure in which “Republicans could seek a ruling from the chamber’s presiding officer, presumably Vice President Dick Cheney, that filibusters against judicial nominees are unconstitutional,” according to a Washington Post article. Only 51 votes would be needed to uphold the ruling, and Republicans hold 55 seats in the Senate. Currently, 60 votes are required to break a filibuster.
No such rules apply to the filibuster at Princeton, now well into its third week of protest.
The Frist Campus Center, built with a $25 million donation from Frist’s family, is the site of the filibuster, according to a CNN.com article. The building’s entrance remains adorned with tents, umbrella tables and placards, and pierced by readings of everything from To Kill a Mockingbird to Introduction to Elementary Particles.
Organizers have established a Web site, www.FilibusterFrist.com, where they post information about and media clips from the filibuster.
The event has drawn media coverage from Time magazine, the U.K.’s Guardian, CNN’s “Inside Politics,” MSNBC’s “Hardball” and other major news outlets.
Frist told reporters in his weekly news conference May 10 that the filibuster issue could peak the following week, according to another CNN.com article.
Organizers at FilibusterFrist.com continue to exhort other students to “Take the Filibuster Challenge” and organize their own campus filibuster. Students at Harvard, Cornell, Stanford and elsewhere have already done so.
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.