The abortion fight in Texas is a perfect example of how a filibuster should work if the legislative system will allow them.
It should allow an individual member bothered that particularly egregious piece of legislation is being rushed through the legislature to take extraordinary measures to delay the vote while bringing attention to the issue. It should not be a de facto veto for the party which lost the last election.
This is exactly what state Senator Wendy Davis (D) did with her 13 hour filibuster. She endured significantly personal discomfort to prevent the bill from being rushed through in the final hours of the special session and brought wider national attention to the bill. What was once a relatively obscure bill became national headlines. People have been given a chance to lobby their members.
Ultimately, a legislative minority shouldn’t be able to subvert the will of a determined majority. Governor Rick Perry (R) called another special session to take up the abortion restriction bill. While the Democrats might be able to delay the votes again its is unlikely they will stop the bill in this new session. Even if Democrats did, Perry could always call yet another special session. The Republicans really want to pass this bill and since they have the majority it is very likely they eventually will.
On the other hand, how the “filibuster” now works in the United States Senate is an absurd perversion of the entire idea of democracy. It has simply become a totally unjustifiable and highly destructive veto for the minority over everything that happens in the Senate, which has no place in a functioning democracy.
Photo by Gage Skidmore released under Creative Commons License