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Tue Jan 26, 2021, 02:16 PM

Here's another take on the filibuster...makes it very clear.

Last edited Tue Jan 26, 2021, 02:53 PM - Edit history (1)

This is from a private newsletter.


Why the filibuster must end.

Several readers have asked me to comment on the filibuster rule in the Senate. I will give my layman’s view below, but I recommend that you first read the excellent analysis by Professor Heather Cox Richardson. Professor Richardson brings a dispassionate and historical perspective to the issue of the filibuster. I, on the other hand, am unconstrained by scholarly temperance and will discuss the matter with more outrage and personal bias.

First, why does the filibuster rule matter? In short, it gives the minority party in the Senate an effective veto over legislation proposed by the majority party. In its modern form, it takes 60 votes in the Senate to cut-off debate and bring a bill to the floor for a vote. As a practical matter, that means that Republicans can defeat (or stall) much of Biden’s agenda. Although the filibuster rule can be abolished with a majority vote (51), Democrats don’t have 51 votes because Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has said he will not support elimination of the filibuster. See The Hill, “Manchin vows that he won't vote to kill filibuster 'under any condition'.”

The filibuster is simply a rule of the Senate—not a law or a constitutional requirement—that prescribes the number of Senators who must vote to end debate on a bill, thereby allowing a final vote on the floor of the Senate. See NYTimes, “The Senate Filibuster, Explained.” Here’s the problem with filibuster: The Framers of the Constitution, who were wealthy men with property or businesses, did not trust the general population to rule wisely. In addition, the less populated agrarian states did not trust the more populated industrial states. Sound familiar? To remedy this, the Framers created two chambers of Congress. The House of Representatives was roughly proportional to population (putting aside issues such as slavery, lack of women’s suffrage, and property requirements). The Senate, on the other hand, was designed to provide equal representation to states, without regard to population in the states. It was a necessary compromise to enact the Constitution.

In other words, the Senate is an undemocratic institution by design. The structure of the Senate effectively grants veto power to a small segment of the U.S. population. A bill that needs 51 votes to pass in the Senate can be defeated by states representing approximately 20% of the population. But a vote that needs 60 votes to overcome a filibuster can be blocked by states representing approximately 10% of the population. (These numbers are based on population ranking without regard to the party affiliation in the Senate; actual results may vary.) Thus, the filibuster is an anti-democratic rule layered on top of an institution that is undemocratic by design.

The filibuster serves no good purpose. For most of its existence, the filibuster has been used by small Southern states to block civil rights legislation. Republicans cry crocodile tears and claim that the filibuster is necessary to protect “the rights of the minority” in the Senate. Hogwash! The very existence of the Senate protects the rights of the minority as shown by the percentages above. The filibuster is an agreement made when the Senate was effectively a private club of wealthy white men. It is long past time to eliminate the filibuster. But we may have to wait until 2022 to gain more seats in the Senate to eliminate the filibuster.

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Reply Here's another take on the filibuster...makes it very clear. (Original post)
rgbecker Jan 2021 OP
Pantagruel Jan 2021 #1

Response to rgbecker (Original post)

Tue Jan 26, 2021, 02:21 PM

1. "the Senate is an undemocratic institution by design."

Correct and I'm increasingly thinking it's outlived its usefulness ?

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