Originally published 03/07/2013
Adam Winkler is a professor at UCLA School of Law and the author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America.As political theatre, Senator Rand Paul's marathon, 13-hour filibuster to protest the Obama administration's dreadful drone policy was gripping. While filibusters have become commonplace these days, they usually only involve a simple notice that one intends to filibuster, which then puts the onus on the other side to round up the 60 votes for "cloture" to end the threat. Paul, however, chose to filibuster the old-fashioned way, by standing on the Senate floor and speaking, as Paul said, "until I can no longer speak." While Paul's valiant protest captured the attention of the political twitterati and evoked comparisons to the classic Jimmy Stewart filibuster film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, it raised an important question few people were asking: Is the filibuster unconstitutional?
Originally published 03/07/2013
WASHINGTON — The filibuster — used this week by Republican Sen. Rand Paul to oppose John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director — is a parliamentary tactic used to block or delay legislative action.Using a filibuster, a senator can essentially hold the floor to prevent a bill from coming to a vote.Filibusters — from the Dutch word for “pirate” — were popularized in the 1850s and continue today in the Senate on the thinking that any senator should be able to speak as long as necessary on an issue, according to Senate historians. Paul’s filibuster lasted nearly 13 hours, ending early Thursday....
Originally published 01/24/2013
WASHINGTON — From Jimmy Stewart’s fictional all-night talkathon to real-life dramas over World War I and civil rights, the Senate’s filibuster has played a notable — sometimes reviled — role in the nation’s history. Now the slow-moving, famously deliberative chamber is on the verge of dialing it back — modestly.Filibusters are procedural delays that outnumbered lawmakers use to try killing bills and nominations. But they seldom look like the speech delivered by the exhausted, devoted senator portrayed by Stewart in the film, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”In fact, the Senate has more filibusters than ever these days. But you’d hardly know it by watching the chamber on C-SPAN television....
Originally published 01/06/2013
Joyce Appleby, emeritus professor of history at UCLA and author of "The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism," is circulating the petition posted below among historians who support filibuster reform. (This is the second time she has championed filibuster reform. The first time was in January 2011 when she circulated this petition.) She asks historians who wish to sign the petition to contact her at this email address: email@example.com. We, the undersigned, American historians, political scientists, and legal scholars call upon our senators to restore majority rule to the United States Senate by revising the rules that now require the concurrence of 60 members before legislation be can be brought to the floor for debate.Signatories (UPDATED: 1/18/13)
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