Sen. Boxer: 'Nuclear Option' Can Hurt Newspapers, Too

By: Joe Strupp Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) called on newspaper editors today to provide more coverage of the so-called "nuclear option" being considered by the Republican leadership of the U.S. Senate, which would eliminate filibusters on judicial appointments, arguing that newspapers have as much to lose as the Democrats do if this traditional minority power is eliminated.

?You need to explain why a vocal minority in the Congress is essential for a democracy and why it is essential for you,? she told several hundred editors at the opening session of the American Society of Newspaper Editors conference here. ?This fight is really your fight as well.?

When asked later what newspapers should specifically do to highlight the issue, Boxer pointed to both news coverage and editorials explaining the effect of a limited filibusters. ?I think editorials would be very helpful,? Boxer told E&P. ?When people hear filibuster, they don?t get what it really means. It would be helpful because the press understands it.?

Boxer cited the efforts by Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), the House Minority Leader, and others in the GOP to weaken minority-party rights, as well as DeLay's threats to impeach judges who have gone against his views. She said newspapers need to cover both issues closely so that readers can remain informed, but also so newspapers can protect their own freedoms.

?They?re going after judges, they?re going after the filibuster, and it is dangerous,? she told the news leaders. ?You have a dog in that fight. Your whole basis of what you do is exercising that freedom of speech. These checks and balances are crucial for all of us. We exercise them.?

?There is a big story to be told out there, and I hope you will tell it as you see it. ... They are going to change the rules of the Senate that have been around for 200 years. These rights are important, this leverage is important. And your rights to tell stories the way you want are in many ways tied to this. You are in this battle.?

Boxer also pointed to the War in Iraq, reminding editors that one of the Republican arguments for being in Iraq is to give the citizens their freedom. ?I think it will fall on deaf ears if we don?t protect freedom of expression here at home, or minority rights,? she said. ?I?ve always believed it to be patriotic to speak out, even when you are alone. It isn?t fun, but it is necessary to do.?


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