Letters to the Editor re the Filibuster

As you all know by now, Ted Kennedy’s seat in the Senate was not retained by a Democrat, but instead was won by Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown, a Republican.  This eliminates the Democrats 60 vote majority, which had become necessary for them to accomplish anything legislatively in the Senate.  The reason is the filibuster rule, which I had previously blogged should be eliminated.

The NY Times published this group of letters to the editor from several prominent scholars and public servants regarding the filibuster.  I think the last letter by Bill Matea is the most interesting and most promising for further consideration.  His argument, translated, is that we go back to the pre-1976 filibuster rule that required senators filibustering a bill to actually be present on the floor of the Senate and debating.  As you may know, the current rule does not require this.  This is silly, given that the whole purpose of the rule is to ensure the possibility of debate.

I would think that making this rule change would be politically palateable to the Americans.  My guess is that this what most Americans think the filibuster rule is anyway.  Secondly, it would address the concerns that many Americans have raised about how the health care bill was “rushed through” without “sufficient debate.”  Having a real, public debate might be exactly what we need on this issue.  Another of the letters included in the link makes this point – make the opponents to health care reform present their arguments in debate and see how things go for them.


About Jake Wobig

I teach international relations and comparative politics at Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina
This entry was posted in American Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Letters to the Editor re the Filibuster

  1. Luke Virgil says:

    The filibuster should never be removed from the U.S. Senate’s r’epertoire. It is an iconic part of Senate lore, and (I know how painfully idealistic and cheesey this will sound) it helps to ensure good lawmaking. However, I agree, the rule needs to be returned to it’s pre-’76 language to force Senators back to the chamber to engage in the vociferous and lengthy debates that fueled the filibuster legend.

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