Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Filibuster

"19th Century Filibuster," from U.S. Senate Art and History,

A group of Congressmen and potential beneficiaries of the DREAM Act last week filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the filibuster.   More on the lawsuit in a blog post by Common Cause President Bob Edgar. (According to a US Senate web site, “The term filibuster -- from a Dutch word meaning "pirate" -- became popular in the 1850s, when it was applied to efforts to hold the Senate floor in order to prevent a vote on a bill.”) 

The lawsuit brings to mind famous uses of the filibuster in the past.  It is commonly said that Southern senators invoked the filibuster to block civil rights legislation, including anti-lynching legislation.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 endured a 57 day filibuster. 

The constitutional challenge is sure to invoke history on one side or the other (or both).  Perhaps our readers will comment on the leading historical treatments of the filibuster.