(Article changed on November 30, 2012 at 15:35)
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Many are under the mistaken belief that our founding fathers intended for a minority to be able to filibuster anything, some kind of extra protection for the minority. Nothing could be further from the truth. The original Senate rules provided for a procedure of "calling the question" which was a way for a simple majority to call for end of debate. The Continental Congress had this embodied in Rule 10, which derived from British parliamentary practice.
It should also be noted that the rights of the minority, in the case of the less populated states, was already protected by the Great Compromise of 1787, with provided each state with the same number of senators, regardless of population.
But in those days, our founding fathers were gentlemen, and would never have used a procedural rule for brazenly dilitory purposes or just to obstruct. The rule providing for calling the question was used so few times in the early days that in 1806 Aaron Burr proposed just dropping it, and so it was dropped by simple majority vote.
It was not until at least 30 years later in 1837 (some say 1841), that some perverse senators got the idea that they could exploit the lack of a rule to allow cutting off debate to literally talk forever, as a means of holding the Senate hostage to an ultimatum of the minority. And even at that there were relatively few filibusters. Only 33 in the 77 years from 1840 to 1917. And that is when the situation became critical.
There was a filibuster of 23 days against a bill to arm American merchant ships to be able to protect themselves in the aftermath of the sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-Boat. And that crisis led to the enactment of the first cloture rule (to cut off debate unfortunately by way of supermajority), at best a PARTIAL restoration of what had been lost by the careless discontinuation of the original "calling the question" procedure by simple majority vote.
So in fact, and again contrary to much misconception, there has never been a Senate rule "authorizing" a filibuster. There have only been repeated attempts to reign in the obstructionist abuse as it became more and more outrageous and frequent over the years.
We are once again at such a point, where the Republican party has so little left of gentlemen in them that they are determined to filibuster literally everything, a new tyranny of the minority. And once again the majority in the Senate can act to change to rules address this new level of sheer legislative spite, if only we empower them with the political will of our action page submissions.
Please stay tuned, because in the next part we will share more valuable insights into how this all really happened, and exactly what we must now do to fix our modern broken Congress, which would trying bring tears to the eyes of our founding fathers.