Thursday, December 6, 2012

Joe Biden could sue himself and other fun facts

Common Cause is suing Joe Biden
Those of you who went right back to sleep, political junkie-wise, right after the election are sure missing some fun now!
I'll get to Common Cause and Joe Biden in a minute, but first let's catch up on some other things.
In its first post-election poll (Dec. 4), Public Policy Polling -- which did some remarkably accurate presidential election polling -- learned that:
* Nobody knows or much cares who Grover Norquist is. Forty-eight percent of those polled were not sure if they had a favorable or unfavorable view of the great no-taxes ever for any reason guru, but fully 77 percent either thought it was not important for politicians to stick to his no-tax pledge or weren't sure.
*Some people will never stop believing President Obama somehow stole the election from what-was-his name?  Twenty-four percent of those polled believe ACORN stole the election for Obama despite the fact that ACORN was disbanded in 2010.   And if ACORN didn't steal the election, then 39 percent of the poll subjects believe the Democrats engaged in voter fraud. It had to be one or the other because how else could you explain it?
* Here's the best poll result: 16 percent oppose the Simpson-Bowles federal deficit plan while 17 percent oppose the "Panetta-Burns" plan, which is a completely made-up plan name that PPP threw in just to see if anyone was paying attention.
* Oh yeah, and 18 percent of those polled want to secede from the union.  I say, don't let the door hit ya ...
So the PPP poll, was hilarious, but that's not all.
U.S. Senator and Tea Party darling Jim DeMint (R-Wingnut Crazy Town) is leaving the U.S. Senate to head the Heritage Foundation.  DeMint, you may remember, was the guy who said the Affordable Care Act would be Obama's Waterloo.  So Obama is staying and Napoleon DeMint is leaving? 
DeMint may be the meanest, craziest right-wing nuttiest U.S. senator in recent memory, though Rand Paul we're counting on you to take up the slack.  So there was dancing in the streets everywhere at the announcement DeMint was leaving, except perhaps among the employees of the Heritage Foundation. 
But wait, it gets even better:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed a vote this morning (Dec. 6) on a bill giving President Obama unilateral power to raise the debt ceiling (a ploy to embarrass Democrats) and when Majority Leader Harry Reid called him on it and said, "Sure, let's vote," McConnell had to block his own bill.  He actually had to filibuster himself! It doesn't get any more dysfunctional than that. 
Which brings us to Common Cause v. Biden, No. 12-775 (D.D.C.). 
Delaware County's former congressman and currently president and CEO of Common Cause, Bob Edgar, says that Common Cause is suing Biden, in his capacity as president of the Senate, seeking a judgment that the filibuster is unconstitutional.
 Long story short, Edgar says that the U.S. Constitution provided for only six specific things that require a 60-vote super-majority -- impeachments, expelling members, overriding a presidential veto, ratification of treaties and constitutional amendments.   The founding fathers, as they spelled out so eloquently in the Federalist Papers, intended that everything else be decided by majority vote.  You know, majority vote, democracy and all that.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is holding a hearing Monday on Biden's (really the Office of Senate Legal Counsel's) motion to dismiss.  The motion argues that Common Cause has no standing to sue. 
Common Cause may not have standing, but interestingly, the Judge told the parties he especially wants to hear argument on whether three of the other plaintiffs -- members of the U.S. House of Representatives -- have standing to sue.  Their argument:  They cannot do their jobs because nothing they pass ever gets enacted by the Senate due to the filibuster.
As to Biden suing Biden -- Bob Edgar told me that the vice president could have standing to sue himself because as president of the Senate he is tasked with casting tie-breaking votes, but he never gets to do that because defeating a filibuster requires 60 votes.  I'll keep you posted on what happens with the court hearing.

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