Last Updated:July 27 @ 05:01 pm

Senate wants suit on filibusters dismissed

By Kevin Freking

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate asked a federal judge Monday to dismiss a citizen lobbying group's lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Senate rules setting a 60-vote threshold for defeating filibusters.

Emmet J. Bondurant, a lawyer representing Common Cause in the case, said the nation's Founding Fathers never intended to allow a minority in the Senate to block a majority from considering a bill. But that's what the rules now allow, he told U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan.

The Senate's lawyer in the case, Thomas Caballero, said the Constitution gives the Senate the authority to make its own rules.

Sullivan gave no indication when he might rule on the Senate's motion to dismiss the case.

Joining Common Cause in the suit were four Democratic House members and three illegal immigrants who complain they're subject to being deported because a GOP-led filibuster in 2010 prevented the Senate from voting on a bill that would have given them a legal path to citizenship.

The case was heard as Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid weighs trying to change the Senate rulesto narrow the use of filibusters. Reid has complained that Republicans are using the maneuver to block Democrats from advancing President Barack Obama's agenda.

Reid wants the ability to bring a bill before the Senate with the approval of a simple majority of its 100 members. A minority of 41 opponents could still resort to a filibuster to prevent the Senate from voting on the bill itself, but only by talking continuously about it on the Senate floor.

That's the public conception of a filibuster, perhaps gleaned from the 1939 movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," in which actor Jimmy Stewart delays a vote on a bill by talking non-stop on the Senate floor for 24 hours before collapsing from exhaustion. In their latest incarnation, filibusters can be carried out with little to no debate when just a single senator objects.

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2 Comments

  1. Jota_Comment by Jota_
    December 11, 2012 @ 10:34 am

    “the nation’s Founding Fathers never intended to allow a minority in the Senate to block a majority from considering a bill”

    Never mind standing
    Never mind there is nothing in the Constitution about it
    Never mind Common Cause would have to be channeling and then selectively hearing, to determine this imagined intent

    The real point, it is not even true.

    A minority DOES NOT BLOCK a majority. Any time the required number is reached to CONSTITUTE A MAJORITY it is brought to the floor

    A minority blocking a majority, so defined, has NEVER happened

    Common Cause contends the Founding Fathers meant for a simple majority to be the rule, contrary to specific language in the Constitution.

    The only requirement is meeting what ever is the majority, so defined.

    two-thirds to impeach
    two-thirds to expel
    two-thirds reconsideration of a bill
    two-thirds over ride a veto
    two-thirds make treaties
    two-thirds amendments

    Yes, it does impede fiat government, where legislation is done with little thought, but it does prevent issues from being repeatedly fought over in later years because they never had the support in the first place to endure

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  2. BillzillaComment by Billzilla
    December 11, 2012 @ 11:55 am

    “Joining Common Cause in the suit were four Democratic House members and THREE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS who complain they’re subject to being deported because a GOP-led filibuster in 2010 prevented the Senate from voting on a bill that would have given them a legal path to citizenship.”

    Three illegal immigrants joined the suit. What’s wrong with this picture? Not a pretty picture is it? The Three illegals should have no standing at all, unless of course, it’s on the bus back to where they came from!

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