by Jorge Gomez • 7 min read
A scan of recent headlines shows a renewed effort to possibly eliminate the U.S. Senate’s filibuster, one of America’s most enduring legislative traditions.
Opponents of the filibuster sanitize their plan by calling it “reform,” but their real intent is something far more dangerous: To bulldoze a key Senate procedure that they see as a roadblock to quickly enact a radical agenda—starting with stacking the federal courts with judges who will help one party achieve its political agenda.
Let’s not forget about something called the “nuclear option,” a Senate rule that’s already in place to temporarily bypass the filibuster and achieve political consensus, without having to completely destroy longstanding Senate norms.
It seems like they conveniently forgot about this option—and if they succeed at eliminating the filibuster, it will be like dropping a nuclear bomb on the Constitution.
Destroying a Centuries-Old Legislative Norm Designed to Foster Moderation
Let’s start by quickly brushing up our congressional history. The U.S. Senate has a longstanding tradition of allowing unlimited debate on legislation. Ultimately, granting unlimited debate means that sixty (60) votes in the Senate are required for a bill or legislative measure to move toward a vote.
In practice, that means that forty-one (41) senators, a minority in the chamber, can delay or block action by threatening to prolong debate—or filibuster.
Critics will claim this is an underhanded tactic that creates political backlogs. But the fact is there’s a foundational reason why the filibuster is part of America’s legislative process, and why it has also withstood the test of time.
Unlimited time for debate means that Senators of the majority party cannot do whatever they want, however they want, whenever they want.
This is consistent with the original intent of the Constitution’s Framers, who created the Senate to differ from the majoritarian rule and popular impulses of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate was designed to be a deliberative body, where prudence, procedure and prolonged debate would, at times, be the safeguard against radical political forces that want their way no matter what.
In other words, the filibuster in the Senate, far from being a weapon of obstruction, is actually a tried-and-true tradition that forces moderation and compromise. Without it, there would be no check on the government’s power to push through massive change with little reflection. Doing so would open the door to radical or highly divisive legislation sailing right through the Senate.
The First Step to Radicalism
Eliminating the filibuster would upend the constitutional order by creating an imbalance in the legislative process. But that would only be the first constitutional domino to topple.
Once the filibuster is gone, other measures destructive to the Constitution would likely surface soon after—such as the dangerous threat of court-packing.
In America today, there’s immense pressure from the radical Left (as well as some proponents in Congress) to “reform” to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal courts. But these so-called “reforms” are a veil to hide the true intent: To stack our nation’s federal courts with judges who will help one party achieve its political agenda.
Killing the filibuster is the only viable, realistic path for modern Leftist political forces to reach their court-packing utopia.
As our legal experts have explained at length in previous articles, court-packing would also decimate the Constitution, destroy judicial independence and turn the judiciary into a politicized puppet of the party that controls the legislative or executive branches.
If court-packing isn’t alarming enough, consider the prospects of other far-reaching legislation currently pending in the Senate, including the Equality Act—a proposed law that would eviscerate federal religious freedom protections and force millions of people of faith to violate their conscience and conform to a political ideology.
Take the filibuster out of the equation, and the majority party in the Senate would likely only have to gather fifty-one (51) votes to move such extremist measures closer to becoming law.
The Filibuster Protects Freedoms and Rights for Americans in the Minority
At the heart of the ongoing debate to end the filibuster is really a deeper question about liberty and the role of government in Americans’ everyday lives.
Opponents slander the filibuster as a nuisance of parliamentary procedure. Yes, the filibuster is an institutional norm, but it is crucial in protecting our constitutional rights, including religious freedom. It’s a mechanism essential in shielding Americans from government elites who wish to strong-arm citizens into conforming to a particular ideology.
The need for the filibuster as a check on one party rule is all the more necessary today, especially for people of faith whose views and beliefs may be considered unpopular or run contrary to the Left’s cultural orthodoxy on sexuality, marriage, life or other essential issues.
Think about it this way. If religious Americans are now perceived to be in the cultural and political minority, then the filibuster does indeed serve a priceless purpose. Senators who value and cherish religious freedom have a tool in their legislative arsenal to ensure a tyrannical majority does not impose its will or strip away legal protections from houses of worship and people of faith.
Lastly, America’s Constitution and the Bill of Rights are distinct and exceptional because of their continuity, particularly the eternal truth that our God-given rights and freedoms do not—and should not—change based on the whims of whoever controls political power. The filibuster helps preserve that continuity so that our rights aren’t changed—or worse, erased—at a moment’s notice.
Bottom line, America needs the filibuster. It’s one of our most essential procedural guardrails in preventing oppressive majority rule and our country going off the deep-end into radicalism—or outright tyranny.