Filibustering: Nothing But An Oversight
Anyone closely watching the Senate during the last four years is intimately familiar with the filibuster. The frustrating and arcane technique was used a record amount of times during Obama's first two years in office. The rule was used to kill all types of progressive legislation even when the bills had majority votes in both the House and the Senate.
Filibustering used to require a politician to speak at length in order to delay a bill. In 1964 Senator Robert Byrd rambled for 14 hours and 13 minutes in order to delay a vote on the Civil Rights Act. When he finally ran out of bluster, they closed the debate and passed one of the most historic bills of our time.
Not anymore. Currently the threat of filibuster is enough to stop a bill in its tracks. The Public Option, an incredibly popular part of the Affordable Care Act, had more than 50 votes in the Senate, but the threat of filibuster alone meant it never got a vote.
But now there's chance at reform. Well-respected lawyer Emmet Bondurant is suing to have the Supreme Court abolish the filibuster.
In his lawsuit in front of the Supreme Court, Bondurant points out that the filibuster is nothing more than an oversight. In 1806, in an attempt to clear up unnecessary rules, the Senate voted to remove something called the "previous question" motion. As they figured it, grown men knew when to shut up. They had no prediction it would instead be used to forever stall progress.
Removing the filibuster would be a net win for this country. While the technique does allow a minority party to moderate bills introduced by the opposition, requiring super-majorities for every law inherently causes stagnation. One need look no further than our super-majority legislation here in Washington State, which allows just 17 Senators to block any revenue package even if it is supported by the other 33 and every single member of the house.
Here's hoping the Supreme Court agrees with him.