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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/9/21

The Filibuster is Unconstitutional

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From Robert Reich Blog

You've probably been hearing a lot about the filibuster these days. But here's one thing about this old Senate rule you might not know: the filibuster actually violates the Constitution.

41 Senate Republicans, who represent only 21 percent of the American population, are blocking the "For the People Act," which is supported by 67 percent of Americans. They're also blocking an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, supported by 62 percent of Americans. And so much else.

Even some so-called moderate Democrats, like Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema, have outsized power to block crucial legislation thanks to the filibuster.

Many of those who defend the filibuster consider themselves "originalists," who claim to be following the Constitution as the Framers intended.

But the filibuster is not in the Constitution. In fact, the Framers of the Constitution went to great lengths to ensure that a minority of senators could not thwart the wishes of the majority.

After all, a major reason they called the Constitutional Convention was that the Articles of Confederation (the precursor to the Constitution) required a super-majority vote of nine of the 13 states, making the government weak and ineffective.

James Madison argued against any super-majority requirement, writing -- that "the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed," and "It would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power would be transferred to the minority."

Alexander Hamilton, meanwhile, warned about "how much good may be prevented, and how much ill may be produced" if a minority in either house of Congress had "the power of hindering the doing what may be necessary."

Hence, the Framers required no more than a simple majority vote in both houses of Congress to pass legislation. They carved out specific exceptions, requiring a super-majority vote only for rare, high-stakes decisions:

Impeachments.

Expulsion of members.

Overriding a presidential veto.

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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