Now this is one of the most interesting strategies I’ve seen in a long time, and it makes perfect sense. After all, the filibuster is nothing but an informal arrangement, not something codified into law. This would make for a more representative body – and no, I don’t care that it would still apply if the Republicans take control of the Senate:
The nonpartisan nonprofit Common Cause sued the U.S. Senate on Monday, challenging the constitutionality of the filibuster rules that require routine 60-vote thresholds for bills and nominations that often have majority support.
Several House Democrats and three undocumented students who would be aided by the so-called DREAM Act also joined the suit.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, comes at a time of increased partisan gridlock in the Senate and amid complaints the filibuster is being abused by minority Republicans.
From 1981 to 2006, both parties used the filibuster when they were in the minority. During that period, the majority party in each Congress filed fewer than 90 cloture motions to overcome a filibuster by the minority.
But since Democrats seized power in fall 2006, Republicans have turned to the filibuster far more frequently. The majority has averaged about 140 cloture motions in both the 110th and 111th Congress. And Democrats are on
pace to repeat that feat again this Congress.
In early 2011, an effort by junior Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) to water down the filibuster failed in the face of opposition from more senior lawmakers. Part of the reason it’s been so difficult to overhaul the filibuster is because it requires two-thirds of senators – or 67 votes – to make any changes to Senate rules.
“They are putting the Senate in a straitjacket,” said Stephen Spaulding, staff counsel for Common Cause. “They cannot adopt their own rules, and that’s an issue we think the courts should settle.”