Monday, June 28, 2010

Senator Robert C. Byrd, Jr.

The longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history, Senator Robert C. Byrd, Jr. of West Virginia, has died at 92. All those who love the U.S. Constitution, those wise restraints that make men free, and all those who respect the U.S. Senate should honor his memory.

Senator Byrd had his flaws and quirks, but he outgrew his prejudices and became a towering statesman. He steadfastly defended the Senate and its institutional role and responsibilities under the Constitution. While he supported Senate traditions like the filibuster -- as a guarantor of the rights of the parliamentary minority -- he also helped the Senate craft rules and precedents that prevented even greater obstructionist tactics. He also was a consistent defender of congressional powers over war and peace.

He won repeated elections because he served and satisfied the people of West Virginia. He used his legislative positions to channel vast sums of federal money into his state -- a practice many criticize but few would fail to do, given the chance.

It's a shame that there are so few Senators today who understand and defend the institution of the Senate as well as he did.

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