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Posted at 04:35 PM ET, 08/28/2012

Yes, the filibuster is constitutional

As Suzy Khimm reports, Common Cause is trying to get rid of the filibuster through the courts, claiming that it’s unconstitutional. Whatever you think about the filibuster, that’s a very weak case.

The organization’s argument (as Khimm summarizes) is that the Constitution requires majority votes in Congress. But, even leaving aside the clear direction of Article I, Section 5, which specifies that “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings,” the truth is that very few bills get any kind of vote on the Senate floor. Bills can be defeated in committee; they can get through committee only to have the majority party refuse to bring them to the floor; or, as is the case with the majority of bills, they might never receive any consideration at all. Common Cause complains that “bills died in the Senate without the Senate majority having had an opportunity to debate or pass them, in violation of Article I, Section 7’s procedures for the passage of legislation,” but surely it doesn’t believe that every bill that is introduced needs a final majority vote in the full Senate? And if not, it’s hard to see why the Senate should be able to ignore a bill just because some committee chair opposes it or because the majority leader opposes it — even if a large majority of the Senate disagrees — but not be able to bring it to the floor under supermajority rules.

None of which has anything to do with whether the filibuster in any form is a good idea. But Constitutional? Sure. The Framers were exactly correct to leave Congress in charge of the way it operates. If Common Cause doesn’t like it, I hear that there will be some elections this year.

By  |  04:35 PM ET, 08/28/2012

 
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