With everything that has been happening in the U.S. Senate regarding the Estrada nomination, I’ve been giving some thought to the concept of the filibuster. I don’t want to make this a debate on the Estrada nomination, but on the concept of the filibuster itself.
One of the basic rules of our governmental system is that (aside from a few constitutionally-mandated situations) majority rules in legislative bodies. If (in a 100 member Senate) 51 Senators want a bill passed, it passes. If only 49 want it passed, it doesn’t pass.
There are several ways to block a vote on a subject at all. One, of course, is to kill the bill in committee. This method I can accept simply because it is impractical to have the entire Senate vote on every issue that comes before it. So, fine, set up committees to deal with various spheres of influence and have them first vote on which bills get sent to the full Senate. No problem.
However, I’m struggling to find a justification for the fillibuster. I would think that once the bill hits the full Senate, it should be voted on by the full Senate. I can’t find a single (valid) reason for the filibuster to exist, other than to allow a minority to block a bill that they know will pass against thier wishes. This, however, goes contrary to what (I believe) is a basic prinipal of our governmental system (majority rules in legislative bodies, as I stated earlier). And if an issue is vital enough that it should require more than a simple majority (such as a presidential impeachment, for example), then let’s have it in the Constitution (or even as legislation). But to allow the filibuster, potentially, could require a 60% vote for any legislation.
Is there something that I am missing? Is there a reason to have the filibuster? Is there some vital need for it in the Senate (I know the House does not have the filibuster). And would the Senate be better off getting rid of it?