Filibusters: Loophole or Unconstitutional? Essay

Filibusters: Loophole or Unconstitutional? Essay

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The United States Senate operates on the democratic principle of majority rule. In an attempt to control what measures pass through the Senate, minority senators may decide to filibuster, or hold the floor and speak for any amount of time, in order to obstruct legislative action. Filibusters, once a rare and extraordinary practice, have become quite common in the United State Senate. Cloture seems to have become a de facto requirement to pass legislation. This gives the minority the ability to overrule the majority by requiring a supermajority, which can be difficult for the majority to obtain. Some argue that the filibuster is unconstitutional because the filibuster is not among those motions that require a supermajority vote in the United States Constitution. The filibuster is a form of unlimited debate in which individual senators or a group of senators obstruct legislative action by holding the floor for an extended period of time and require a supermajority vote to cloture, which many argue is unconstitutional.
For a bill to become law, it must pass through the House of Representatives and the Senate in identical form. Filibusters occur in the Senate but not in the House because the Senate allows unlimited debate on its measures, while the House only allows five minutes. Rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the United States Senate allows a minority of forty-one senators the ability to prevent the Senate from debating or voting on bills, resolutions, or presidential nominations by filibustering or acquiescing a filibuster. A filibuster occurs when a senator or a group of senators take advantage of the “practice of unlimited debate” and hold the floor for an unnecessary amount of time with the intention of delaying or o...


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Gerhardt, Michael J. “The Constitutionality of the Filibuster.” Faculty Publications. N.p.:
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