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Common Cause Sues To Fix The Filibuster

Common Cause Sues To Fix The Filibuster

It’s well past time to fix the filibuster.

That was the message sent Monday as nonpartisan nonprofit Common Cause filed suit against the U.S. Senate challenging the constitutionality of the filibuster rules that require routine 60-vote thresholds for bills and nominations to move to the vote stage.

As Politico reports, Several House Democrats and three undocumented students who would benefit from passage of the DREAM Act joined the suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Colombia.

Filibuster reformers also got a big boost last week when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) went on the floor to endorse efforts to weaken the filibuster, just a year after his notorious “gentleman’s agreement” with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) to keep filibuster rules in place.

“These bills continually pass the House and get blocked in the Senate,” said Sarah Dufendach, vice president of legislative affairs for Common Cause, which pushed for the DISCLOSE Act. “Their vote is being diluted. Their constituency is being diluted.”

In addition to Common Cause, three DREAM Act students and four House Democrats, Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson, both of Georgia, Michael Michaud of Maine and Keith Ellison of Minnesota were also named as plaintiffs in the suit. The students, who were born outside the U.S. and brought to the country illegally by their parents, claim they were denied a path to citizenship because of the archaic 1975 filibuster rule. During the 2010 lame-duck session, the DREAM Act, backed by President Barack Obama, won passage in the House and attracted a simple majority of 55 votes in the Senate, but fell short of the 60 needed to break a GOP filibuster.

Unfortunately the Senate appears so broken that it’s really come to this– a lawsuit by an outside advocacy group and representatives to get the body to function. The filibuster serves an important role and getting rid of it entirely would be a mistake. But like much in Washington, it assumes lawmakers are operating with good faith in negotiations and legislating and, well, we’ve learned the hard way that just isn’t the case.

Related Stories:

Could The Senate Be Losing The Filibuster? And Should It?

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Photo from ellrbrown via flickr.

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14 comments

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8:56PM PDT on May 16, 2012

It needs fixin'! The filibuster is s denial of the democratic process.

3:14PM PDT on May 16, 2012

Filibuster if it happens they must put it to the people problem done. They would not want you to vote on it now would they.


1:08PM PDT on May 16, 2012

B.S. bs B.S. bs

9:05AM PDT on May 16, 2012

Hallelujah! Now when will we have a law suit challenging the obscene amounts of money used to bribe our congress and presidents? Enough money has been spent on this election that we probably could have lessened the debt by several trillion dollars. It is a disgrace that people are going hungry in this country. How much food could the average negative ad have bought for hungry children? Disgraceful, disgraceful, and so unchristian God must be weeping.

8:31AM PDT on May 16, 2012

I want to know why the very cowardly Harry Reid has not invoked the "nuclear" option against the filibustering Republicans after they used that as a sledgehammer against the Democrats during almost ALL of GW Bush's reign?? That's all we heard about then. All it requires is a simple majority to pass bills, yet the Senate has yet to say anything about it because they are so kowtowed by the Republicans. GROW A SET, HARRY!!!!

It would be one thing if the Senate was acting after reading the bills and understanding their implications, but they're not. The Republicans, especially, are being simply obstructionist because they want Obama to fail, the economy to fail and to steal yet another election if they can.

ENOUGH!! Rules don't necessarily need changed, as we saw when the Dems caved time and again when threatened with the "nuclear" option. Time to put that back on the Republicans and see how much THEY like it!!

8:31AM PDT on May 16, 2012

I want to know why the very cowardly Harry Reid has not invoked the "nuclear" option against the filibustering Republicans after they used that as a sledgehammer against the Democrats during almost ALL of GW Bush's reign?? That's all we heard about then. All it requires is a simple majority to pass bills, yet the Senate has yet to say anything about it because they are so kowtowed by the Republicans. GROW A SET, HARRY!!!!

It would be one thing if the Senate was acting after reading the bills and understanding their implications, but they're not. The Republicans, especially, are being simply obstructionist because they want Obama to fail, the economy to fail and to steal yet another election if they can.

ENOUGH!! Rules don't necessarily need changed, as we saw when the Dems caved time and again when threatened with the "nuclear" option. Time to put that back on the Republicans and see how much THEY like it!!

8:03AM PDT on May 16, 2012

When a majority has been given a mandate, a filibuster is anti-democratic. Most countries haven't had their legislatures handcuffed in this manner. Big business loves the filibuster. It means that government can't do anything to impede their cash flow. Unfortunately, it also makes the United States a laughing stock around the world.

6:17AM PDT on May 16, 2012

Don't be so radical, people. The filibuster does not have to be eliminated. How about mandating that the party who wants to use the practice to filabuster must stand up in the chamber of the senate and speak continuously, 24/7 about the subject matter they are protesting. This is the way the rule was mandated before it was changed to just saying; "we filabuster the bill". Don't make it so easy for politicians to perform their jobs. There must also be other ways to administer the rules by which our government functions. Make our elected officials work and earn their pay. What ever happened to (public servants) serving our government, and not paid whores who cater to monied interests to serve our naiton?

6:16AM PDT on May 16, 2012

We're the only country that even allows filibusters. We're also one of the most disfunctional countries politically because of it. Perhaps we should keep it, but with the change that the Senators filibustering must represent at least 45% of the people. The 41 Republicans who filibustered everything worthwhile represented 16% of America, and that's just sick. A tyrrany of the minority is not a legitimate way to run a country.

5:56AM PDT on May 16, 2012

There needs to be a consequence for ABUSEING it!!!

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