The filibuster

And that’s how it stood when the New York Times wrote the sentence with the word “limited” in it.

In other words, the rules for the filibuster were identical when the Times wrote both sentences. The only difference was which party benefited.

Sure, the “rules” were the same, but (or so the theory goes) the way in which the filibuster was actually used radically changed. If in fact it is the case that the current Republican senate minority uses the filibuster in a fashion that is qualitatively different than previous senates, then it is entirely reasonable and non-hypocritical to have held one view about the filibuster then and a different view now. In fact, it would be odd not to do so. So was there in fact such a change in how the filibuster was used? That’s what this thread is supposed to discuss!
And, while we’re here, what do you, Bricker, think of the filibuster?

Screw the filibuster. Majority rule. If you pass it and it doesn’t work, then your opponents have something to swing at you in the next election.

As a Brit, I find the filibuster a strange mechanism, and I wouldn’t approve of it over here!

But would you filibuster it?

I like the filibuster, but just as a friend – meaning I don’t love it. I wouldn’t shed a tear if it were shelved, but I think it’s better to have it.

During the Roberts hearings, I was generally against Roberts, but an op-ed in I believe the Christian Science Monitor changed my mind. The jist of it was that the filibuster should primarily be used to force a compromise, and you generally can’t compromise on an individual appointment, so the filibustering of appointments should be severely limited or done away with outright.

As for filibustering bills, I’m ok with it in theory, but any tool that is open to the abuse that we have seen in the last couple of years needs to be reigned in somehow. Maybe give each party X number of filibusters they can use per Congressional session, and once you are at that limit, you’re done. Make them think hard about whether or not they REALLY want to filibuster.

The right has been using the filibuster for their political purposes my entire life. I suppose it would be fair to say that they have been effective at its use. The left has used it far less and far less effectively.

The use of the filibuster has increased greatly over the past several decades, and used never as much as in the past few years.

I am for its removal, as I’ve said elsewhere.

The requirement of super-majorities to conduct business is, in effect, letting minorities set the order of conducting business. When that minority insists on abusing that prerogative, it makes it worse.

An active filibuster requires a ton of effort for it’s opponents but not necessarily for those wishing to prevent a vote. This is what people generally don’t understand. All or nearly all of the Majority has to remain present for the entire period of the filibuster or there is no quorum and no business can be conducted. They can outlast a single filibustering Senator because they can nap between quorum calls but even 2 dedicated Senators become hard to wait out and once you get to three or more it’s a losing proposition. The filibusterers can easily relieve each other whenever one needs a break from talking. And while they are playing Kabuki the Majority are wasting time they could be moving forward on other parts of their agenda.

Just want to point out that there is nothing sinister about using the filibuster “for political purposes.” it is, after all, a procedural tool to stall the passage of legislative actions, which is pretty much an inherently political process.

Agreed. However there is legitimately a question as to whether the procedural filibuster is a fair and useful application of that tool. I can stab someone with a screwdriver, but that isn’t what it is intended to be used for. I would like to see the reinstatement of the old timey filibuster only. I want them up there reading the phone book in shifts and all other business halted. Further, any other senator who supports the action must participate in the filibuster by taking the floor. If someone feels that strongly about an action I wan their butts out on the floor, on camera, wasting my tax dollars and making a big show of it. Further, I would suggest that each senator be given one filibuster per session of congress. I have no problem with the use of the tool, let’s just ensure that we aren’t stabbing people left and right.

The only way to actually ban the filibuster (as opposed to talking about banning the filibuster) is to vote it in as of ten years from the date the bill is passed. That way, you’re changing the rules but for senators and a majority party you’re uncertain of.

That’s not a bad idea!

But frankly, I doubt it will gain ground. Because as much as the majority Democrats chafe at those obstructionist minority Republicans, they remember when they were in the minority and might be again. And as much as the majority Republicans chafe at those obstructionist minority Democrats, they remember when they were in the minority and might be again. Each side would love the rules to change to benefit them but won’t risk losing the advantage.

Is it really an advantage if the net effect is that neither side can accomplish their goals?

I disagree. In my opinion, thwarting the will of the majority in a democracy is a sinister thing. Stopping the business of the government so that the President will be a failure is a sinister thing.

I don’t think so. I believe the motion for cloture takes precedence over debate so If there are 55 Senators from a majority party and two or three from the minority party, they move for cloture and win.


Why isn’t it simply up to the conscience of the individual politician based on his/her constituents needs and subject to the constituents refusing to re-elect or recall the politician who thwarts the will of the majority?

But not in a representative democracy, and certainly not in constitutional democracy. There are institutions in place whose main purpose is to thwart the will of the majority.

OTOH, are you willing to accept prayer in school, the teaching of Creationism in science classes, and a whole host of other things that majority supports?

The problem with any plan of this sort is that it just invites bizarre charades where the majority party starts proposing laws that are written to be so extreme that they KNOW they will be filibustered, simply to start using up the limited supply of filibusters, etc., etc., etc.

I’m willing to support the undemocratic inequities in the Constitution I have sworn to uphold, but I do draw a distinction between that and parliamentary rules that worsen those inequities to the point that the government does not work. The rules of the US Senate allow a minority of members (sometimes only one) to stop all of the nation’s business. I am not persuaded that the constituents of one representative legitimize the practice, or that a parade of horrible things might happen if it were not the rule. But if you fellows are persuaded that such is needed to protect the Senators from the tyranny of parliamentary maneuvering, you are certainly entitled to that opinion.