Reforming Filibuster

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In perhaps one of the most iconic films featuring the United States Senate, the naïve Washington outsider, Jefferson Smith, finds himself pitted against political graft and special interests from his first day as U.S. Senator. Out of options and fully opposed, Mr. Smith is forced to utilize the filibuster until complete exhaustion in order to convince unsympathetic Senators of his principle, as well the standards that the Senate should operate under. This classic film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, highlights many aspects of the Senate, most especially the merit of the filibuster in aiding in the protection of the little guy, the minority. Yet the filibuster throughout American history has evolved from this early notion of minority protection into a political gambit used by Senators to actually oppose debate. “The practice has gotten out of hand, leaving bills gridlocked in an oft-feuding Senate and stalling important votes for purely partisan gain” (TimeRe). The need for reform, constitutional reform, is evident by evaluating the essence of the problem itself. The problem, best understood in context to the filibuster’s historical development and the structural differences between the two chambers of congress, accentuates the need for reform, not abolishment of this extra-constitutional development. The filibuster has merit, but by introducing a constitutional amendment to make this senatorial policy more efficient and privy to democracy, the consequences prove to be overwhelming positive. As will be articulated below, a shifting cloture rule, as well as debate limitations will provide the ideal solution to what has become a growing, debilitating problem. Before venturing into the specifics of the problem concerning the filibus... ... middle of paper ... ... a small group of states, representing a fraction of the United States population, couldn’t thwart the interests of most of the nation. Adding a clause to this amendment clarifying filibuster rules in terms of reconciliation and judicial nominees will, no matter what logically is decided, will contribute efficiency and clarity. Overall, the end goal is to make the Senate more efficient and privy to democracy. Currently the filibuster even makes the “majority leader’s role of coalition-building extraordinarily challenging (O’Connor 239). Undoubtedly this has added the negative stigma Congress has accrued. Nonetheless, a constitutional amendment reforming the filibuster by adding a declining cloture rule and making more explicit rules and proceedings, the Senate can be transformed into a more a more efficient, bipartisan body focused on lively, not stalling debate.

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