Norman Ornstein Profile picture
Norman Ornstein is an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor for the Atlantic.
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May 18 4 tweets 1 min read
This piece made me wince. 40 and 50 percent or more of those with serious mental illness have anosognosia, a part of the brain disease that means they have no insight into their illnesses. Untreated, they end up homeless, jailed or dead. Not by choice. 1… Gripped by delusions or believing that God has taken their souls, in a broken mental health system that bars loved ones from intervening, the lives they deserve are taken away. It is true that drugs do not always work, often have bad side effects. But for many, they do work. 2
Mar 28 5 tweets 2 min read
Harry, you are right – that you are not quite in the mainstream. It may be Supreme Court tradition and practice that leaves every recusal decision up to the justice, but that is simply wrong as a matter of ethics. It is morally offensive for Clarence Thomas. 1 This is not the first occasion. Ginni Thomas has been an outspoken and active participant in many right wing activities that have interacted with decisions made by the court. Not once has he recused or explained himself. The simple fact that he can likely escape any consequences
Jan 18 4 tweets 1 min read
I have read Joe Manchin's statement. He quotes his predecessor Robert Byrd from a 2010 hearing on the filibuster-- wrongly. I was a witness at that hearing, talked to Byrd after. Byrd changed the rules at least 9 times to get around obstruction. He was open to rules changes 1 Not to eliminate the filibuster, but to keep the burden on the minority. He was dismayed and angry at what Mitch McConnell did to distort the rules. He shouted "Shame, shame!) at the Republicans on the floor when they forced him from his deathbed to make the 60th vote. 2
Jan 12 4 tweets 1 min read
Far too many prominent scholars are saying drop voting and election reform and just do a bipartisan reform of the electoral count act. They ignore the total refusal of Republicans to cooperate on election reform, and buy their appeal to do something serious about ECA. So naive 1 It is an uphill battle to get voting and election reform, but it is urgent to head off massive chicanery in 2022. Republican offers on ECA are like Lucy and the football. The timing is obviously designed to head off election reform. Anything McConnell would agree to on ECA… 2
Sep 7, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read
In the mid-1970s I had the great honor of working for and with Adlai Stevenson III on a committee he chaired, and for which I was staff and later staff director, reforming the Senate's committee system, and then as he created a structure for Senate ethics. I saw him up close 1 as he navigated the intense pressure from every Senate powerhouse when he tried to eliminate their committees and subcommittees and take away some jurisdictions. He did not bend and ultimately prevailed. 2
Sep 5, 2021 8 tweets 2 min read
A little meditation on grief. When you lose a child, it is unfathomable. It is a different kind of grief. We had people come up to us and say, "I know how you feel, I lost my cat last month." Or "I know how you feel, my 93-year-old mother just died." At first, I was taken aback. How can people be so obtuse or insensitive to think those things are comparable? Then I realized that people are trying to be understanding and empathetic, and don't know how to react. Of course, the most common is "There are no words."
Jun 24, 2021 5 tweets 2 min read
. @ChrisCoons A story about Jack Markell, nominated to be Ambassador to @OECD. I saw him at the Dem Convention in 2016 in Philadelphia. I told him my son Matthew had died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a motel in Newark, DE-- & there was no law in DE requiring detectors 1 in hotels, motels, or places with underground garages that would be vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning. He said to send him info. Ten days later, I got a call from the governor in my office-- asking why he had not received anything from me. I immediately sent him a packet 2
Jun 7, 2021 4 tweets 2 min read
. @billscher @ThePlumLineGS I knew Robert Byrd well. Testified in front of him on the filibuster in the Rules Committee. Talked to him one-on-one about the Senate and its rules. He had a very different attitude by 2009 than he had in 1975. As did Republicans in the Senate. 1 A super-majority then, in both parties, wanted to work on a compromise. Different now. When he was wheeled into the chamber from his death bed to provide the 60th vote on the ACA, he was angrier than I have ever seen him, shaking his fist and shouting, "Shame, shame" at McConnell
May 31, 2021 5 tweets 1 min read
@gelliottmorris gives us the money quote on whether the Framers thought the Senate should be governed entirely by minority rule via a filibuster or other means. Here is the quote from Federalist 65: In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power would be transferred to the minority
Apr 4, 2021 6 tweets 2 min read
. @Nate_Cohn makes some good points in his piece on GA. But there is more. Looking at a presidential election, including looking at it through the lens of the barriers provided by the pandemic, does not necessarily translate into what could or would happen in a midterm contest. 1 Some research shows that more convenience matters in lower turnout elections. The evidence is not entirely one-sided. And as more people get familiar with absentee voting, more are likely to employ it. 2
Mar 17, 2021 5 tweets 1 min read
Memo to mainstream journalists: Stop treating Mitch McConnell as an institutionalist. No one has blown up more norms. Stop taking everything he says at face value. Do you really think if he employed obstructionist tactics to blow things up that the majority would be helpless? Use unanimous consent to bring the Senate to a complete halt? The majority can bring back a motion on the previous question to override, or use other rules changes to obviate. Delay every confirmation? Majority can find many ways to expedite. 2
Feb 25, 2021 5 tweets 1 min read
Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean, two estimable public servants who co-chaired the 9/11 Commission, oppose a January 6 Commission that lacks an even number of Ds and Rs, which was the case with their commission. They have a sentimental attachment to a time long past. 1/ Lee and the other Ds on the 9/11 panel--Ben Veniste, Gorelick, Kerry, Roemer-- had every partisan reason to blame it all on Bush and Rs. But of course they did not. They were patriots first, as were the Rs, Fielding, Gorton, Lehman, Thompson, saw their role as protecting America.
Jan 20, 2021 5 tweets 1 min read
Note to mainstream media journalists, editors producers, headline writers, Twitter writers: DO NOT REVERT BACK TO BUSINESS AS USUAL! Do not make a Peleton bike, a tan suit, a slight misstatement the same headline or emphasis as inciting racist violence or lying to Congress. Do not fall back on false equivalence-- including equating Elizabeth Warren and @AOC with Ted Cruz, Lauren Boebert or Louis Gohment. Report facts when there is norm-breaking or obstruction by Congress. Do not think that there are no lessons to be learned from the past decade.
Jan 10, 2021 9 tweets 3 min read
. @brianstelter You need to have a sharp focus on the culpability over the past many years of the mainstream media. @paulkrugman, @jayrosen Tom Mann & I were among many who warned years ago of the transformation of the GOP from a regular political party into an insurgent outlier A handful of good journalists like @JohnJHarwood @jackiekcalmes @JillDLawrence and others reported it honestly, but way too many did not. Abnormal behavior was normalized long before Donald Trump emerged. Malign behavior was sidetracked by framing it as strategy. 2
Jan 6, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read
I want to be realistic here. The opening for Democrats is not likely at all to be by altering the filibuster rule, although adamant Republican obstruction could change that calculus later this year. The opening is reconciliation. 1 That can be used for tax reform, health reform, infrastructure, Covid relief and economic stimulus, elimination of the debt ceiling as a weapon, maybe a change in the Byrd Rule and other reconciliation rules to allow less jiggering of numbers and more non-budget stuff 2
Oct 30, 2020 4 tweets 1 min read
A thought exercise for constitutional scholars: the logic of Kavanaugh et al is that the Constitution gives state legislatures supreme authority to choose electors; that state courts cannot check the legislatures over state constitutional violations. Correct? 1 If we follow that logic, there are two conclusions I draw. First, if federal courts use it to invalidate ballots received, say, after election day when state courts have said they are OK, that should only apply to presidential votes, not votes for Congress or other offices. 2
Oct 14, 2020 4 tweets 1 min read
How to respond to the journalists who keep asking Biden and Harris about court packing: “How dare you ask me that question when court packing is going on right before your very eyes by McConnell, Graham and their henchmen. The most egregious breach of norms in modern times! “Mitch McConnell & Senate Republicans packed district courts, appeals courts and the Supreme Court by denying Barack Obama the nominees he was entitled to, through filibusters and misuse of the blue slip in an unprecedented fashion. You should be asking them about this outrage.
Oct 3, 2020 6 tweets 1 min read
I have unintentionally ignited a firestorm here. I meant the message to Schumer to be a reflection of McConnell's willingness to do anything to achieve his ends. This cannot be done by Ds, because they would not have enough members to make a quorum. 1 So please stop telling Chuck to do it! Second, if Ds kept the Senate in session now, McConnell would use the time to confirm a slew of judges awaiting cloture votes. And Senate staff would be more vulnerable to Covid. So I don't want them to keep the Senate around now. 3
Sep 30, 2020 4 tweets 2 min read
Some observations from Cleveland after being in the hall last night. 1. The setting, the precautions, every element of prep by @debates was extraordinary and impeccable. The only thing the Commission, Chris Wallace could not plan was Trump’s bullying, piggish disregard for rules It was beyond excruciating being in that room, yards from Trump, for 90 minutes. All of us there shared the one word description: shitshow. But the shitshow also,showed the value if the debates. They give an unfiltered window into the candidates.
Sep 11, 2020 7 tweets 2 min read
. @noahopinion Steps to take: First, we have to try as best we can, to head off some of the elements of the problem. Alert media, social media to proclaim over and over that there is no winner, many votes to be counted. Indicate, eg, that 2/3rds of vote not yet counted. 1/ We are working through our @ElectionTask, including with a Media Summit on the 17th, to point out all the pitfalls, what to do to prepare, what not to say to mislead. We need to try to get states that do not allow mail votes to be processed until election day to ease restrictions
Jul 26, 2020 4 tweets 2 min read
As I pointed out in this piece in @TheAtlIdeas @TheAtlantic some states’ election authorities are putting up their own vote by mail repositories, boxes with drive-in windows in convenient places to make it easy to vote and avoid postal issues.… Now we need @MikeBloomberg @JeffBezos @BillGates And other billionaires who care about free and fair elections and the future of America To go to state election officials and governors and create a partnership. You buy the safe secure vote by mail boxes. They install & possess.