The nonprofit advocacy group Common Cause is suing the Senate in hopes of having the rules governing the filibuster declared unconstitutional. From Bob Edgar at Common Cause:
Here’s how the obstructionists work. To begin debate on a bill, senators must first adopt a “motion to proceed.” But debate on that motion, as on most everything else that comes before the Senate, is unlimited unless at least 60 senators vote to end it. That means a minority of as few as 41 can block any action simply by refusing to permit a vote on the motion to proceed.
Thus the filibuster does not extend debate, which is its supposed purpose. Instead, it stops debate. […]
That’s why Common Cause is filing suit today to stop it. [Download and read our legal complaint as a PDF.]
Our lawsuit argues that the Constitution sets out super-majority requirements only in special cases, to override a presidential veto or ratify a treaty, for example. It does not permit the Senate to require more than a simple majority just to begin debate; and the Supreme Court already has said that a legislative body’s rules cannot conflict with the Constitution.
Congressional plaintiffs in our suit include Reps. John Lewis, D-GA, Michael Michaud, D-ME, Hank Johnson, D-GA, and Keith Ellison, D-MN.
I doubt this lawsuit will actually result in the Supreme Court telling the Senate they must eliminate the filibuster, but the Court has recently surprised us several times, but that may not be needed. I can easily see the simple act of bringing the lawsuit succeeding at the goal of getting the rules changed, even without winning the court case.
At the very least his move should bring even more attention to this issue of reform, which could help convince the Senate to act on its own.
I could also picture the judiciary ruling against this suit on the grounds that each chamber is allowed to make its own rules, but as part of that decision the Court reaffirms that a simple majority of senators already has the legal authority to change their rules and eliminate the filibuster at any time. Such a statement could increase popular, political and media pressure on the Senate to act.
Currently, there seems to be remarkably little media or political acknowledgement that nothing is actually stopping a majority of senators from quickly ending the filibuster right now.