Friday, January 22, 2010

Eric Black on the Filibuster

In a recent post about the Senate's filibuster constipation, MinnPost's Eric Black came up with this nice summary of the problem:

In the age of the permanent campaign, the out party tries to deny the in party anything that might make them look good or that the ins could claim as an accomplishment in the next election.
Black gives a brief but good history of the filibuster's use, pointing out that it was mostly a tool of segregationists who wanted to stall or kill civil rights legislation. One fine anecdote:
Every anti-civil rights filibuster had succeeded until 1964 when Minnesota's own Hubert Humphrey assembled the 67 votes needed to break the southern filibuster of the landmark Civil Rights Act. But Humphrey, floor manager of the bill, needed every vote, including that of Sen. Clair Engle of California, who was dying of a brain tumor and could no longer speak. (In the Senate, they vote by voice.) When the clerk called for Engle's vote on the cloture motion, he pointed to his eye, to indicate that he was voting "aye." I am not making this up.
Bonus -- If you ever wondered where the word "filibuster" came from, you'll find out in this article. It's one of the most appropriate derivations I can remember learning.

My recent post on the filibuster

Note: Eric Black is one of MinnPost's many ex-Star Tribune writers who took the buyout a few years ago.

No comments: