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November 26, 2012

There is No Legitimate Place for the Filibuster

Posted in: Broken Government

Senate Chamber

Senate Chamber, early 1900s

Realizing the Senate is highly dysfunctional, the Los Angeles Times editorial board has called for the Senate rules to be reformed. The editorial though doesn’t want the Senate to adopt the proven solution of just eliminating the filibuster because they want the filibuster to retain its “legitimate and historic place.” From the LA Times:

One response would be to eliminate the filibuster altogether. As a Senate rule, it can be changed by the majority party, and Democrats could eliminate it (though, of course, Republicans would almost certainly filibuster such a move). That, however, would also do away with the filibuster’s legitimate and historic place. Rather than eliminating the rule, the better approach would be to amend it in such a way as to preserve the ability for minorities to fight against one-party steamrolling while scaling back the filibuster’s capacity for obstructing everything.

This is simply stupid. There is no legitimate reason for allowing the minority, the party which lost the recent election, to have a veto in the Senate. The founders never intended a Senate minority to have such awesome power over basic legislation. The Constitutions clear stated the few  very important issues that should require a super majority in the chamber, everything else was intended to be a simple majority vote.

The idea that without a filibuster a majority in the Senate is going to steamroll are system is laughable. A senate majority is already checked and balanced by the House, the President and the judiciary. If a party does manage to dominates multiple elections allowing them to full control, they should be able to enact the agenda they run on. That is how democracy are suppose to work.

If people really think that there is a legitimate role for a filibuster in a functional legislature, they should then be advocating for it to be adopt at the state level. To date though I have basically found no one who thinks creating filibuster in their state senate would improve their state government. In fact just two years ago the LA Times editorial board advocated for eliminating super majority requirements in California.


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