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Russ Feingold: Is the Senate a Mere Rubber Stamp?

Senator Russell Feingold just stood in the well of the Senate and asked his colleagues whether the Senate is any longer a deliberative body. When it comes to the question of whether corporations ought to be permitted to break the law and violate citizens’ privacy and then simply get away with it, with no consequences whatsoever, oughtn’t there to be a debate on the issue? Those who vote for cloture today are responding that no, there needn’t be any debate about corporate lawbreaking and the violation of legal guarantees for individual privacy. Those who vote for cloture today would turn the Senate into a undeliberative rubber stamp for the Bush administration and grant:

…retroactive immunity to companies that allegedly cooperated with an illegal program. And why are we in this situation? Because the minority and the administration think that they are entitled to just ram the deeply flawed intelligence committee bill through the Senate without any changes. It seems that they are worried that the Senate might actually pass some of the very reasonable amendments that I and others would like to offer if they give us a chance to do so.

Or perhaps they are just trying to sabotage the bill, and then figure out a way to blame that outcome on Democrats.

Mr. President, no Senator, no Senator should go along with these cynical, strong-arm tactics. We have to stand up the administration and stand up for our rights.

I hope the Senate follows Senator Feingold today. I hope that United States Senators, of all people, take advantage of the prerogative to think for themselves, to speak their minds, and to engage in substantive debate before tossing American civil liberties into the dustbin.

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