May 21, 2012

Filibuster is Not Unconstitutional

The nonpartisan citizen's lobbyist group, Common Cause, has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court of D.C. asking that Senate filibusters be declared unconstitutional. Ed Whelan of The National Review believes that Common Cause's complaint ought to be dismissed.

His stance is based on these two general claims:
1. "The Constitution confers on each House of Congress the broad authority to 'determine the Rules of its Proceedings.' (Art. I, § 5.)"
2. "With regard to Common Cause’s objections, I don’t see any material difference between how the filibuster operates and how the Senate’s committee structure (also a creation of Senate rules) operates. When, as routinely happens, a bill or a nomination is referred to a committee, the Senate thereby vests in a minority of the Senate the ability to block any further action on the bill or nomination. Indeed, the minority is much smaller than the minority needed to sustain a filibuster." 
In other words, if Common Cause's argument were correct "that would mean each House's system of referring to matters to committees is also unconstitutional."