Fix the Filibuster

Fix the Filibuster

In May 2012, Common Cause and allies sued the US Senate to challenge the constitutionality of its frequent use of the filibuster. Once employed to ensure open and robust debate, the filibuster today is routinely used to block debate and action in the Senate on critical issues, making a mockery of the principle of majority rule. The current requirement that 60 of 100 senators must vote to even begin debate was neither contemplated nor authorized in the Constitution by America’s founders.

The case was most recently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Learn more here about Common Cause v. Biden, and about work being done to break the gridlock in the US Senate.    

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Filed complaint 5/15/2012
Press release 5/15/2012

Response to the Senate's Motion to Dismiss, 8/27/12

Exhibit A to the response 8/27/12

Supplemental Filing, 12/12/12

Common Cause will appeal federal court's dismissal of filibuster challenge 12/21/12

Brief of Common Cause et al. to D.C Circuit Court of Appeals 6/18/13
Reply brief of Common Cause t al. in D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals - 8/1/13 
Oral argument before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals - 1/21/2013

Other resources

The Senate Filibuster Rule, law review article by Emmet Bondurant, constitutional attorney and member of Common Cause National Governing Board in the Harvard Journal on Legislation [48 Harv. Jour. on Leg. 467 (2011)]
Presentation by Emmet Bondurant to the American Constitution Society, Aug. 15, 2012
Seeking Cloture, Power Point slides accompanying Bondurant presentation
Can We Reform the Senate in Time to Save Democracy?, by the Communication Workers of America
The Filibuster -- An Historical Accident, by Common Cause
Fixing the Filibuster, by Senator Tom Harkin in The Nation
The Pirating Senate, by Bob Edgar in Huffington Post
Staff Counsel Stephen Spaulding on MSNBC’s The Cycle discuss the filibuster
Stephen Spaulding discusses the filibuster on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry