In our opinion: The filibuster is necessary, and the best tool against abuse of power


Return To Article
  • Utefan60 Salt Lake City, UT
    June 21, 2014 8:17 a.m.

    Mike Richards, you seem to scream Constitution at every chance yet you rarely understand it except with your own interpretation. You can tell us that the earth is flat.....but it isn't. And if the Republicans take back the House, just what will they do? They are so busy cannibalizing their own that they will not have time for valid health care, stopping wars or helping the poor with minimum wage, let alone immigration reform. That House will still be stalemated by the Tea Party side of things and we as American citizens will be the losers yet again.

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    June 18, 2014 9:40 a.m.

    The idea of the filibuster is fantastic. It gives the minority a voice to protect against the tyranny of the majority.

    However, it is clear that it is being abused. I think some changes are prudent.

    Maybe limit the filibuster to actual legislation, and not to nominees. Each nominee should have the right to an up or down vote. One of the perks of being President is nominating those you think would be best for a particular post. If the nation dislikes your nominees, they can show that in the next election for President.

    Maybe a filibuster would stall ALL business in the Senate. So if a judicial nominee is filibustered, the Senate cannot take up debate or action on anything else until the filibuster is resolved.

    Maybe require the senator, or senators engaged in the filibuster to actually be speaking on the Senate floor.

    Maybe limit the senator to so many filibusters per term.

    Maybe rather than a simple majority to pass legislation, the Senate can require 55, or 60 votes to pass anything and require a stronger majority. I think this one is a little much though.

    Just some ideas.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    June 11, 2014 6:39 a.m.

    As currently used by those in the far right, the filibuster is not the best tool against abuse of power. It IS the abuse of power. It is not being used to crate better legislation. it is being used to coerce and force approval of their far right proposals, even when the country would suffer as a result of their enactment. I agree that the filibuster is necessary at times, but tehse are not those times. It's long past time for the far right to stop what they're doing, and work for the good of the country.

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    June 10, 2014 7:01 p.m.

    Tyler D,


  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    June 10, 2014 3:20 p.m.

    The idea was that the House of Representatives was the place where the passions of the people boiled over, but the Senate was the more deliberative body that would act as a "cooling saucer" for those emotions. Unfortunately, the character of the Senate has changed to the point to where it can no longer be differentiated from the House. Its time for a change in these anti-democratic Senate rules.

  • Spangs Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2014 2:51 p.m.

    I can't wait for the Deseret News editorial next year decrying the abuse of the filibuster at the hands of Democrats when the Senate flips to Republican control.

  • Kimber Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2014 2:47 p.m.

    To those thinking that Obama Care was done properly: In 1965 Medicare came into being to care for our Senior Citizens. I hear it wasn't popular, but now, who would want to do away with care for parents/grandparents. It isn't perfect, but it's a great thing for our Senior Citizens to have. Obama Care was passed for at least 8 million people that didn't have any coverage available through work or other areas. It may not be popular among the many millions of people that already have coverage, but among us that were uncovered and couldn't even go to the doctor or hospital without worrying about becoming bankrupt, it certainly is. We are the minority, but we are citizens of the United States and happy to have a forward thinking presidency. And now, about 5 million Americans are waiting for states to approve an expansion of Medicaid so they can get care. All the best to them!

  • Jim Cobabe Provo, UT
    June 10, 2014 2:29 p.m.

    Filibuster may be the best resort in the current political scene, but it amounts to a pathetic and futile impotence by comparison to a united Federal Government that works together in cooperation to promote the general welfare. It is a sad state of affairs when we turn to such pitiful alternatives to try to establish common good.

  • dave4197 Redding, CA
    June 10, 2014 1:13 p.m.

    Best and fillibuster are 2 words I would never use in the same sentence or paragraph or editorial, period.
    I am of the strong and considered (age 68!) opinion that several changes need to be made in our gov't. The Senate must vote, not block forever, allow the majority its way, and legislate rather than deliberate forever. The Senate must be representative, we're no longer the 13 colonies, we are a representative democracy except in the Senate, the time is long past that the Senate should be representative. The Senate and the House must have term limits, and I believe this item is key to getting our gov't to legislate and represent; lifetime incumbents have too much incentive to stay from their own legacy to their few wealthy financial backers. Our gov't needs to be made up of citizens not lifers. Our gov't needs to work not stall.
    End the fillibuster and the Senate's other blockage rules.
    End the career legislators.
    Make the Senate a representative body.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    June 10, 2014 12:31 p.m.

    @2 bits – “(because they know they have a Super-Majority and don't need ANY minority support to pass whatever they want).”

    I assume you’re talking about the ACA since that’s the only major piece of legislation passed when Dems had a super-majority (i.e., can’t be the Stimulus bill since that contained the largest single tax cut in history).

    Obama had the audacity to start with a Republican model (the Heritage, Dole and Romney healthcare plan) thinking (naively) this would create a bi-partisan coalition, but was promptly told, “sorry, our only goal is to make you a one term president so we’re going to say no to you on everything.”

    Yes it takes two sides to govern effectively, but when one side refuses to go along with anything other than 100% their way, I think we can safely call them arrogant and uncompromising.

    But since the public doesn’t like arrogant uncompromisers, the best political strategy is to have your network propaganda machine employ the “I’m rubber you’re glue” tactic ad nauseum in the hopes that some people will buy it.

    Sadly, (as Goebbels predicted) that strategy is often successful…

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 10, 2014 11:45 a.m.

    I can't recall a time when the filibuster was used to curb an abuse of power. Whenever I've seen it used, it's always been a tactical tool for a minority to obstruct the will of the majority, generally always for some partisan gain.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    June 10, 2014 11:16 a.m.

    2 bits - regarding your comments about it taking both sides for it to work, or not work. I agree with what you say. And I would just like to give an illustration of how that worked. A former neighbor of mine has worked in Senator Hatch's office for as long as I've lived in Virginia (26 years). I had heard the stories of Senator Hatch and Senator Ted Kennedy working together on a number of bills and so I asked him how that seemingly odd couple got together and worked to get bills passed. He explained that Senator Hatch knew how much in the minority his party was and so instead of filibustering, he chose to roll up his sleeves and work with the other side. He certainly didn't get everything he wanted but he was able to influence the language of the bill to make it more acceptable to his constituents. And the end result was, despite their political differences, they were good friends too. That's the way it should work.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 10, 2014 10:16 a.m.

    @Tyler D

    Re: "The Tea Party crowd - with their arrogant certainty, unwillingness to compromise, and disdain for tradition"...

    OK, lets blame it all on Tea Party types. Not at all on the party that locked the doors and changed the locks, keeping the minority out while they hammered out the legislation they planned to cram down the minority's throats.... NO... Let's not blame them at all... It's just the minority's fault.


    Hint... BOTH sides are "arrogant and unwilling to compromise".


    IMO it takes two. It takes a majority that is so arrogant that they will lock the minority out and change the locks (because they know they have a Super-Majority and don't need ANY minority support to pass whatever they want).

    And it takes a minority willing to stand up and use the systems put in place to keep this type of One-Party-Rule from happening in our country.


    Mostly... it takes bad politicians (on BOTH sides).

    It takes an arrogant majority willing to just walk over the minority.
    And it takes a minority that decides it will do everything in their power to block that arrogant majority.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2014 10:05 a.m.

    "The founding fathers really, really, REALLY wanted to make it hard for ONE man (say a President, or a King) to pass his agenda by force."

    The filibuster, as it's currently handled, is not how it originally was. Before, you'd have to give those hours long speeches in order to filibuster. Nowadays you just have to say you want to filibuster and that forces the 60 vote threshold. So actually, the rules in the past were less hindering than they are today.

  • louie Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 10, 2014 9:24 a.m.

    I am convinced the Editorial Board writes this and other positions only to draw negative attention. The only abuse issue relating to filibusters is that it has been overused as a tactic against the Obama administration far more than ever before, and for petty reasons.

  • regis Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2014 9:19 a.m.

    Harry Reid should be ashamed of the abuses of power that have occurred under his Senate leadership. And while I am sympathetic to the argument that Republicans, if they gain control, should restore long-standing cloture rules, I'm also smart enough to know that Democrats would simply revert to the same abuses of power once they again attained a majority in some future election.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    June 10, 2014 9:18 a.m.

    We can establish or do away with all the rules we want, but unless people of good will recognize and generally adhere to a host of unwritten rules – etiquette, manners, fair play, etc… - it won’t matter much.

    The Tea Party crowd - with their arrogant certainty, unwillingness to compromise, and disdain for tradition (in what sense are these guys conservative?) – have made a mockery of republican virtues and of government of, by and for the People.

    The Founders wrote a great deal about the tyranny of the majority. I wonder what they would think of today’s tyranny of the minority.

  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    June 10, 2014 9:05 a.m.

    Hey "strict" Constitutionalists...
    If a rule was adopted in 1917, how did our founding fathers have anything to do with it? That is what the piece says. For the piece to conflate a 20th century notion to our 18th century founding is ridiculous in the extreme.

    The filibuster and cloture votes to end a filibuster are not used to "fight" against particular legislation now. It is used to gum up the works. It is abused by the Republican Tea Party to end the legislative and "advice and consent" responsibilities of the Senate. More than one Republican Tea Party Senator in the past year has filibustered a bill because he wanted action on another, unrelated piece of legislation. And the Republican Tea Party consistently invokes cloture to specifically oppose the President, and is unrelated to the matter at hand. Petty politics.

    However, since the Republican Tea Party does not really believe in government, I suppose the tactic to gum up the works of legislation is considered good tactics and policy. I hope the American voting populace takes heed, and punishes these petty politicians.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    June 10, 2014 9:00 a.m.

    Shimlau - one core constitutional duty in particular is the president's duty to appoint federal judges to facilitate the justice system that we count on to serve the citizens of our nation. Justice delayed is justice denied. When vacancies are not filled in a timely manner, cases pending in the courts, brought forth by citizens., or cases against criminals who have harmed our citizens, are delayed which costs money and time (which is money). Republicans went into full-bore filibuster mode the day Obama took office, and they've kept it up ever since. For all practical purposes, anything more controversial than renaming a post office has required 60 votes during the entire Obama presidency. Republicans have announced their intention to filibuster all of Obama's nominees to the DC circuit court simply because they didn't want a Democratic president to be able to fill any more vacancies. This act was somewhat hard to believe coming from a party that less than a decade ago successfully pushed to confirm George W. Bush’s nominees to the very same seats.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 10, 2014 8:51 a.m.

    I can see how some people can blame everything on the filibuster (instead of the people we elect). But keep in mind that the filibuster had a real purpose, and a GOOD purpose. It's not the enemy or something we must do away with.

    The founding fathers really, really, REALLY wanted to make it hard for ONE man (say a President, or a King) to pass his agenda by force. They also wanted to make it impossible for ONE PARTY to be able to force their agenda on the people. They wanted COMPROMISE.

    They wanted BOTH parties (yes... even the minority) to like it first.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    June 10, 2014 8:46 a.m.

    There are few bills in the Senate that require immediate attention. The Senate equally represents each State. The populous States have no advantage over the sparsely populated States. The filibuster is a tool that has been used by both parties. The Democrats are as much at fault as the Republicans. How many bills proposed by the Democrats are neutral? How many judicial nominations are politically neutral? How many treaties are neutral? How many budgets have the Democrats presented in the Senate?

    Obama has shown us that he will not abide by the Constitution. Harry Reid has shown us that he was willing to break the rules to get ObamaCare passed. Now that Obama's contempt for the Constitution has become well known and Reid's refusal to allow bills to be voted on has been well documented, this year's election will surely return control of the Senate to the Republicans.

    Democrats would be foolish to change the filibuster rules, but if they want to, let them. It will insure the doom of all Democrat proposed bills after the election.

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2014 8:29 a.m.

    Who wrote this? What a piece of balony!

    Because of the abuse of the filibuster, no one has to work to compromise anymore. There is no bipartianship. There are no more statesmen or women in our Senate.

    If Kennedy were still alive, Hatch would not be able to be his friend or work on legislation together for the good of the country. There would be enemies.

    I am glad the filibuster is gone - at least for judicial nominees.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 10, 2014 8:25 a.m.

    I agree. If you read the founding father's writings... they wanted only legislation that was VERY popular (and I mean even popular with the minority) to pass. That's why they made it so easy for the minority to BLOCK legislation, but so hard for a majority to just ram it through without having to work out a compromise with the minority.

    They wanted legislators to learn that if they didn't put in at least a LITTLE "win" for the minority... their legislation was doomed. They wanted EVERYBODY to be happy the legislation passed.

    And if everybody wasn't happy... it should not pass.


    That was what they wanted.... Win-Win legislation. But I don't think they foresaw how divided we would be in the future (and no... it did NOT start with the Tea Party... it's been going on for a LONG time now. Even before Bush).


    I think the old recipe for successful legislation SHOULD work. If you intentionally put enough "Win" in it for even the minority to like it.... it SHOULD pass.

    But it seems BOTH sides almost automatically oppose ANYTHING the other side proposes... even if they like it.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    June 10, 2014 8:23 a.m.

    Sad that this newspaper parrots the Republican line, which will completely flip when the GOP takes the Senate. Will you still take the same line if the Dems do the same thing? You will be screaming how the minority is halting the Constitutional duty of the Congress, blah-blah-blah. Mark my word.

    If you don't think the filibuster has gone too far, consider the recent energy bill, co-sponsored by Senators in both parties, widely supported, and needed (imagine that). Yet, the Republicans won't let it move forward because they are holding it hostage over unrelated issues that they want attached to the bill. Enough already.

    Don't be so conservative that any change, even changes that would be widely accepted as beneficial, can't happen. The concept of being a conservative didn't used to be like this. And yet, you, Deseret News, have become a parrot rather than a leader in rational public policy discourse.

    If the filibuster is so good, let's have it in the House, too. For that matter, let's do away with Congress, or any body that is supposed to be majority rule and represent the people?

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    June 10, 2014 8:22 a.m.

    I don't think it's the BEST solution because it basically keeps congress from doing it's job.

    We elect and pay politicians to make decisions for us. That is of dubious wisdom in it;s self but to then let a minority of them shut down the entire political decision process is NOT the best solution. An honest compromise would be.

    But let's be honest, we don't have a democracy or a republic because money interests control congress. Why bicker about the fine points of a democracy that doesn't exist?

  • Shimlau SAINT GEORGE, UT
    June 10, 2014 8:18 a.m.

    ECR; What exactly is the "core constitutional duty." that they are forbidding him from carrying out?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 10, 2014 8:16 a.m.

    ‘In our opinion: The filibuster is necessary, and the best tool against abuse of power’

    The filibuster itself is an abuse of power

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    June 10, 2014 7:18 a.m.

    If they're going to filibuster then they should be made to stand and talk until they're done. These days, all that's needed is the threat of a filibuster.

  • ShaunMcC La Verkin, UT
    June 10, 2014 7:17 a.m.

    For once, I wholeheartedly agree. Government is supposed to be efficient when carrying out the functions it is designed for, but it is supposed to be inefficient and deliberative when choosing to create law and policy. There needs to be processes that slow down the rush to judgement that often results in bad law, loss of freedoms and unintended consequences.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    June 10, 2014 5:41 a.m.

    This essay is among the most disingenuous of any I have seen written on this page. Yes the filibuster procedure was established to guard against abuse of power. But in recent years, it has been used for just the opposite reason.

    Let the record show that when one party controls both the Senate and White House, the number of cloture votes to end a filibuster is as follows:

    Reagan - 113 times
    Clinton - 80 times
    W. Bush - 130 times
    Obama - 307 times with over two years left to serve

    For all practical purposes, Republicans have declared war on the president's very legitimacy as president, forbidding him from carrying out a core constitutional duty.

    It is true that both parties have used, and sometimes abused, this privilege but to suggest, as this essay does, that it has been used equitably in recent years is just not true. Maybe the DN editors should write about what can be the "best check" against abuse of the filibuster. With the attitude and practice that currently exists on Capitol Hill, it's a question that needs serious consideration.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 10, 2014 5:33 a.m.

    During the presidency of George Bush Jr. there were 130 cloture votes, that is votes to end a filibuster. During Obama's presidency there have been 307 so far, and we still have 2-1/2 years to go. What the Republicans have done with the filibuster since Obama's elections is truly unprecedented in our history.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2014 12:24 a.m.

    Tea party ruined this position.