Is it time to get rid of the Senate filibuster and super-majority?

I’m getting thoroughly annoyed by the whining and posturing from both sides in the Senate as they discuss – or disagree about – President Trump’s Cabinet and judicial nominations.  I note that Senator Schumer has promised that it will take 60 votes to pass Supreme Court nominations, no matter what.

The problem is, that supermajority requirement – not to mention the filibuster – are not constitutionally protected.  They’re derived from Senate rules that were passed some decades ago, but which are internal procedures – and they can be changed.  The US constitution establishes the need for supermajorities in only a few, very limited circumstances:

  • Impeaching federal officials (Article 1, Section 3);
  • Expelling a member of Congress (Article 1, Section 5);
  • Overriding a veto (Article 1, Section 7);
  • Amending the constitution (Article 5);
  • Calling a constitutional convention (Article 5);
  • Among the states ratifying an amendment (Article 5);
  • Ratifying a treaty (Article 2, Section 2);
  • After the Civil War, rehabilitating former rebels (14th Amendment, Section 3);
  • Removing a President from office (25th Amendment, Section 4).

Article 1, Section 5 of the constitution states that “Each chamber may determine the Rules of Its Proceedings.”  That’s the authority by which the Senate instituted the filibuster and supermajority rules for appointments.  However, such authority cannot make those rules permanent.  Just as the Senate established them, the Senate can amend or remove them.  They have no constitutional permanency, as do the other points noted above.

That being the case, why not get back to constitutional basics, and do away with the filibuster and supermajority requirements entirely, except for those put in place by the Founding Fathers?  I think it’s time they were removed, so that we can get over the current nonsense and get on with the business of running the country.  What say you, readers?



  1. Agreed! It IS time to get back to those principles that made the USA what it is… Not what a bunch of career pols think is best for them to hold their jobs…

  2. I thought Harry Reid had already killed the Suermajority rules while approving some of Obama's junk?


  3. I think McConnell has figured it out. A supermajority is required for cloture, which ends a debate, but after a true filibuster under Senate rules, the debate ends when everyone has their say. 51things in Senate Rule 19. If they filibuster Sessons, (for example) there is no vote for cloture, because after the filibuster, the debate is over. Then they move to a vote, Sessions gets 51 votes, and life goes on.

    The true filibuster serves a purpose, and we should leave it alone.

  4. I agree with the position on rule 19. Everyone that wants to talk gets to talk, twice, for as long as they can physically hold out. Schedule the discussion for the Supreme Court nominee from 8pm to 6am each night, and do regular business all day long. I'm sure if there is anything of substance in what is said during that time, it will be caught on CSPAN camera, and people can discuss it later.

    It may take 96 days to get through all the Democrats who want to stand in the door, but once they're done talking and no-one else wants to be recognized to speak, a vote is held.

    Filibuster preserved, vote held, no nuclear option.

  5. When initially instituted, these rule were probably to prevent situations where a narrow minority abused its power. It forced moderate candidates and compromises on legislation.

    Unfortunately, we are now so polarized that those things are no longer possible. No longer are the disagreements just about policy; the values, beliefs and visions on either side of the isle are now completely different. How can you be a moderate identity politician? What compromises are possible with ideologues? How can people with the constrained vision treat with someone legislating the "new man"?

    The consequence of supermajority requirements at this time is simply paralysis. They should be removed.

  6. I supported getting rid of the filibuster for nominations when George W. Bush was president. I've since decided it has a place. It is amusing to see the New York Times write editorials lambasting the filibuster as an anachronism when Democrats hold the Senate, and editorials extolling the genius of listening to the minority when Republicans are in charge.

    Senator Reid invoked the nuclear option to get rid of the filibuster for federal judges and Cabinet nominees. It's been amusing to see how that played out for the first president who wasn't Obama. Getting rid of the filibuster altogether — or even just getting rid of it for Supreme Court nominations — may look just as short-sighted in the future.

    It shouldn't take a lot to get Gorsuch confirmed. I believe 21 Democratic senators up for re-election next year represent states that voted for Trump. A little barnstorming could go a long way to get their vote.

  7. I'm disappointed that by now you still do not understand that Lyin' Ryan and Post Turtle are Rove Republicans who intend to do their best to Stop Trump, make sure he cannot get re-elected, and continue the march towards One World Government. The only counter to their corruption is Priebus, who still has political aspirations and understands that if the stonewalling becomes TOO obvious, those aspirations will fly out the window. Well, that, and President Trump's tweets. I do wonder, though, how long it will be until Twatter starts censoring President Trump as it does so frequently to other conservatives who take exception with their Communist cause?

  8. The filibuster has its uses, but the Democrats are basically daring the Republicans to be as big a bastard as they were when they held the whip hand.

    It's going to see if McConnell has the guts to stand up to them.

  9. IMHO, the problem is that the Democrats have already set the precedence that they can get rid of the filibuster whenever they want.As a result, the filibuster is going to last only until the next time the Democrats are bothered by it, at which point it will go away anyway.

    So I am not bothered by the Republicans doing away with the filibuster, because it won't really make a difference once the Democrats get in power again.

    Now, that being said. I'm not sure that getting rid of the filibuster was a good idea. I think the ability to resist the tyranny of a slight majority is important, and the Senate was intended to be resistant to short term emotions and think in longer terms (this is why the longer terms of office and the fact that they were appointed by the state, not elected by popular vote)

    But the filibuster is currently a zombie, it's fatally wounded, if not entirely dead and it will be put out of the Democrats misery the next time it annoys them.

  10. The filibuster is supposed to be a moderating influence and under rule 19 it would be. There are other rules such as the "blue slip" that allow a single Senator to torpedo a nomination. Currently a member is listed as speaking in opposition as long as he or she has a paper submitted saying so. Get rid of the filibuster and the only difference between a Senator and a Representative is the size of the bribe he or she commands.

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