Elizabeth Warren’s historically sound case against the filibuster

tags: filibuster, Senate, Elizabeth Warren

Julian Zelizer is a political historian at Princeton University. He is co-author of "Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974."

Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) this month called for a fundamental change to the rules of the Senate: She wants to eliminate the filibuster, the procedure that allows a minority of the chamber to tie up legislation by continuing debate indefinitely. The minority can do so because, under filibuster rules, 60 senators must vote to end debate on legislation.

“When Democrats have the White House again, if Mitch McConnell tries to do what he did to President Obama and puts small-minded partisanship ahead of solving the massive problems facing this country, then we should get rid of the filibuster,” Warren said in New York.

Many Democrats oppose this change or at least have significant qualms. “Having just lived through being in the minority and how destructive the 51-vote threshold has been for Supreme Court justices, I just want to think long and hard about it,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) has said. And Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) has argued that “we should not be doing anything to mess with the strength of the filibuster” — although he recently opened the doorto changing his mind. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is a skeptic, while South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg sides with Warren.

Protectors of congressional “norms” will oppose Warren’s proposal, but the truth is that the filibuster — a 19th-century invention unmentioned in the Constitution — is an anti-majoritarian tool within an institution that already favors the minority.

Read entire article at Washington Post

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