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December 21, 2012 3:23 PM Judge Strikes Down Filibuster Challenge

By Ryan Cooper

From McClatchy:

In a 47-page ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan acknowledged that the “filibuster rule is an important and controversial issue…as in recent years, even the mere threat of a filibuster is powerful enough to completely forestall legislative action.”
Nonetheless, as could have been predicted, Sullivan added that “this court finds itself powerless to address this issue for two independent reasons.”

This lawsuit would have really only made sense if Republicans had sued to prevent Senate Dems from changing the filibuster rules; the Dems haven’t even tried that yet. What this means is that, for now, filibuster reform lives or dies in the Senate.

Via David Dayen.

@ryanlcooper

Ryan Cooper is a National Correspondent at The Week, and a former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @ryanlcooper

Comments

  • c u n d gulag on December 21, 2012 4:01 PM:

    In my opinion, the Judge's ruling was sound.

    Interference by the courts into Senate rules could be construed as one branch of government exceeding its authority, by affecting the rules in another branch. The Senate can approve, and then impeach, Judges with life-long tenure - but that's about it. And impeaching a Federal Judge is not an easy task.

    The filibuster is not in the Constitution, but in the Senate rules, so there's no "Originalist" argument for it - it's up to the Senate if it wants to change that rule.

    I hope they keep what was the original 19th Century intent of the filibuster (though not what it was mainly used for, in the run-up to the Civil War) - which was that in this house of Congress, the Senate, whose purpose was to slow down legislation from the more reactive House of Representatives before granting its approval, to further slow down legislation that the minority in the Senate felt was being "railroaded" too quickly.
    The filibuster was meant to delay things, so cooler heads, upon some further reflection, might prevail.

    In other works, while I support filibuster reform, I'd say that it can still be useful, and that we still need it. But not to put a hold on every law and appointment.
    Senators in the minority should still be allowed to stand up, and filibuster - "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" style.

    So, Senators, you want to filibuster?
    No problem!
    Get off your fat asses, and even fatter wallets, and do so.
    But there's a clock running, you need to be mindful of that.

  • cmdicely on December 21, 2012 4:32 PM:

    This lawsuit would have really only made sense if Republicans had sued to prevent Senate Dems from changing the filibuster rules; the Dems havenít even tried that yet.

    That would have not been "this lawsuit", even ignoring the difference in parties, as then it wouldn't be a lawsuit challenging the filibuster rule, but instead a lawsuit challenging the power of the Senate majority to set the rules of the Senate. Such a suit might not fail for the reasons this one failed (lack of standing and raising a non-justiciable political question), but would almost certainly fail for the reason that the power of the Senate to set its own rules, and to do so by majority rule, is so clear in the Constitution that there would be no place to even begin to ground an argument that the filibuster rules can't be changed by a majority vote.

  • efgoldman on December 21, 2012 5:01 PM:

    @ c u n d gulag In my opinion, the Judge's ruling was sound....Interference by the courts into Senate rules could be construed as one branch of government exceeding its authority, by affecting the rules in another branch.

    Exactly right. Who sued, and on what basis? No court will touch a matter like this. The Senate (and the House, for that matter) has to fix (or screw up) its own rules.