Reid Collects Petitions Against Partisan Power Grab on Supreme Court Steps
WASHINGTON, DC – One million Americans Wednesday petitioned their Senators to stand up against any attempt to circumvent our government’s checks and balances and silence debate in the U.S. Senate. The petitions against the proposed “nuclear option” were presented to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid on the steps of the Supreme Court, and later delivered to targeted Senate offices on Capitol Hill.
“Today, over one million Americans have spoken with one voice against the arrogance of power in Washington,” said Reid. “They’ve told the Republican Party loud and clear to stop any attempt to abuse their power and silence Senate debate.”
Senate Republicans are trying to change the filibuster rules in the Senate and eliminate debate. By going “nuclear,” they will be able to remove the one check on President Bush’s power in Washington and turn the Senate into a rubber stamp for his judicial appointments and Supreme Court nominees.
“Our founding fathers built a system of checks and balances into our Constitution,” Reid continued. “This system has worked for over 200 years, but is now threatened by a handful of power hungry Republicans who will do whatever they want to get their way.”
Today’s petitions came from across the country. They urged the Republicans to respect the system put in place by our founding fathers and back away from any attempt to change 200 years of Senate rules.
Reid was joined by Congressman John Lewis, who stressed the important role Senate debate plays as a check on power in the United States government.
“Sometimes we can speak with one voice as a nation,” said Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), “but there are times when our conscience requires us to take a different path. This nation has been made more fair, more just, more true to its own destiny by the voices of dissent that spoke out against injustice in America. We have been made a better nation by those who fought to end slavery and legalized segregation, by those who struggled for the cause of human dignity and equal justice in America. It is our ability to make room for difference that has made us a beacon of light for people seeking justice around the world. We cannot turn back now. We do not want our elected representatives to be silenced. We do not want the voices of dissent to be stamped out in the U.S. Senate, because we know it may be the minority that saves us from ourselves.”
Corey Rowley from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania also spoke at the rally today. Rowley is an American with a disability and someone who has made her life’s work protecting the rights of people with disabilities. Rowley emphasized how important it is that Senators are free to speak in the Senate on behalf of the people who sent them there.
Rowley said, “I signed this petition because we need to protect our rights. I drove down here from Harrisburg, because I want my Senator to know that I feel strongly about this. As an American with a disability and someone who has made my life’s work protecting the rights of people with disabilities, this is a very personal battle. This is a question of civil rights and the nuclear option threatens the protection of our rights.”
While Republicans suggest they need the “nuclear option” to put judges on the bench, evidence to the contrary could not be clearer. President Bush has seen more of his judicial nominees approved than any other President in the past twenty-five years. Only ten of 214 nominations have been turned down.
“The ‘nuclear option’ is the result of Republican leaders arrogant with power,” said Reid. “If they can’t get everything they want, they try to break the rules. Based on the facts, it is clear that this attempt to strip away important checks and balances in our government is not about judges. It is about the desire for absolute power, and Senate Democrats are proud to stand with over 1 million Americans against this attempt to change the rules.”