Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves us with belief in the ideal of 'We the People'
Judd Gregg: The Biden coup, part two
Joe Biden has indicated that if elected president, which seems more than a reasonable likelihood - and if the Senate goes Democratic, which is definitely a possibility - he would be open to doing away with the filibuster rules.
This would be a radical change in the way we as a nation have been governed.
The filibuster as it now exists in the Senate is the last refuge and defense for people who identify with the minority in our nation during those times when the majority party controls the presidency, the House and the Senate.
The filibuster fulfills the goals of James Madison and other Founding Fathers, who were desperately afraid of the autocracy of the majority.
They believed that the only way to preserve freedom and liberty was to have a government that did not concentrate excessive power in one person (a king, for example) or one group of people of a singular political view.
This is why they created our constitutional structure, built on the idea of balance between the three branches of government.
Over time and with the development of the partisan party system, the only real entity remaining that protects the minority from the dictatorship of the majority has become the Senate - because of the filibuster procedures.
Under the filibuster, on most issues of policy the minority can insert its views by requiring the majority to obtain 60 votes before a matter can be passed and moved toward becoming law.
This right, the right of the filibuster, has been often and aggressively used.
Most recently, during the first two years of the Trump epoch when both the House and Senate had Republican majorities, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his party colleagues effectively employed the filibuster to slow a dramatic shift in President Trump's preferred ideological direction.
For the Democratic Party, the filibuster served its purpose during those two years.
Without the filibuster rule, our checks-and-balances form of government would devolve into a parliamentary model where one party controls all the machinery of the government and is able to assert its way unilaterally.
As is apparent to most observers, a parliamentary form of government is prone to be autocratic. The pendulum of government swings quickly either left or right, depending on the party in power, and then back again when change occurs.
Madison wanted government through consensus, not through the singular action of a powerful majority such as occurs in a parliamentary structure.
Also, without the filibuster procedure, the Senate would increasingly resemble the House, where the minority has virtually no impact and is a marginalized observer of the legislative process.
During the first two years of the Trump era, the president often called on Senate Republicans to do away with the filibuster regarding policy issues. They could have easily done this with a majority vote that would have changed the rules.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and others in the GOP leadership understood how damaging this would be to the Senate's role, and to our governance more broadly.
They did not cave to the pressure from the president or his cadre of talking heads on Fox News.
It was a profile in courage and an exercise of good leadership by McConnell.
Now the left is demanding that the filibuster be done away with if the Democrats should win control of all branches of the government.
The left has an agenda.
They will not countenance their agenda being muted or derailed by a Republican minority in the Senate.
Biden, who served as a senator for more than 30 years, must understand the upper chamber's role.
He served with figures such as Sens. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Howard Baker (R-Tenn.), all of whom were extraordinarily protective of the role of the Senate as a unique institution where the minority rights were respected.
So why would Biden even indicate a willingness to eviscerate the fundamental purpose of the Senate?
It is not because he is concerned about passing his tax-and-spend policies, as ironically taxes and spending can be raised with a simple majority vote through the mechanism known as reconciliation.
The entire ObamaCare health bill was passed using reconciliation, for example.
No, there is something much more nefarious at work. The socialist/progressive moment has its eyes on the Supreme Court.
With it membership now being nominally five conservatives and four liberals, the socialist/progressive movement sees the Court as the only institution standing in the way of its plan for a sweeping leftward movement in the way America is governed.
They fear that their desire for a massive expansion in the role of government, whether in muting individual rights or in promoting social justice as they see it, will not pass constitutional review under the Court as it is presently constituted.
Thus they must capture the Court.
There must be a coup.
Biden appears to have been intimidated into supporting socialist/progressives' proposals for radical change, but they know they need to control the Court to complete their conquest.
This requires that they change the membership of the Supreme Court.
They must add two or three more judges to the Supreme Court, making the membership of the court 11 or 12 instead of nine.
Fill the new judgeships up with those committed to the cause.
Voilà, you have real, permanent change.
You have the ultimate coup.
You have a total revamp of our constitutional system.
You have "packed the court"!
But to undertake this revolution, the socialist/progressive movement must first get past the Senate and its role of protecting the minority through the filibuster.
This is the true purpose behind Biden's change of heart. He is abandoning his historic support and understanding of the importance of the Senate as the core element of our constitutional system.
He appears to fear that if he does not roll over on this issue he will be rolled over by the socialist/progressive hordes who are now running his party.
President Franklin Roosevelt tried to do this, but the pushback he received from his own party members, primarily in the Senate, stopped his efforts.
These are different times and this is a different Democratic Party.
Will the Democratic leadership in the Senate, if it is in the majority, have the political courage to defend the most important institutions in our constitutional system? Or will they cave to the excesses of the time?
Sen. Schumer - and your Senate Democratic colleagues - this will be your time.
Judd Gregg (R) is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.