Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (R-Sunday Shows) expressed bewilderment on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that GOP Sens. Cruz, Lee and Paul would filibuster gun control legislation. “I don’t understand it,” McCain said. “The purpose of the United States Senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know where we stand.” With all due respect to Sen. McCain, that is almost completely backward.
The purpose of the US Senate is not to be some federal debating society. It is not tasked with taking the great issues of the day and giving its “august” members a platform for their musings on policy. The public does not look to the Senate for guidance in its deliberations on the issues.
The Senate’s first, and only, task is to uphold the Constitution. Originally, the Senate was designed to act as the states’ check on an encroaching federal government. Senators were appointed by state legislatures to be their voice in Washington. The House was designed to be the voice of the people. Sadly, those days are long gone.
Today, Senators are just House members juiced-up on steroids. Worse, they have a habit of putting decorum and the traditions and processes of the institution above foundational principles.
“I don’t understand why United States senators want to block debate when the leaders said we could have amendments,” McCain noted.
If one believes a legislative proposal is, on its face, unconstitutional, the ability to offer amendments is of little solace. Sens. Cruz, Lee and Paul, among other Senators, believe legislation to limit gun rights is, by its nature, unconstitutional. Amending the legislation to make it slightly less unconstitutional is a fool’s game, and a large reason our federal government has grown so large.
A filibuster against gun control legislation is upholding the greatest tradition of the Senate, i.e. acting as a bulwark against the federal government’s natural inclination to expand its power. Knowing how specific Senators voted on shredding the Constitution won’t put it back together again. Any proposal that tramples on constitutional rights should never grace the floor of the Senate.
Sen. McCain, once the GOP candidate for President, is becoming marginalized within the GOP Senate caucus. New, more conservative, Senators are stepping up to defend Constitutional principles and becoming a vocal, loyal opposition to the Administration and its curtailing of our liberties. They should be applauded.