In Defense of Filibustering

Originally published in Social Theory and Practice

The Senate filibuster is among the most criticized political institutions in the United States. This paper examines the ethics of filibustering. The way filibustering currently proceeds in the Senate, I argue, is morally indefensible. Yet, there is a way filibustering could proceed that is both defensible and desirable from a normative perspective. This is because filibustering—if it is properly institutionalized—allows minority parties in the legislature to protect and advance their interests in a manner that avoids shortcomings faced by other institutions proposed to accomplish these goals, such as supermajority rule and judicial review.

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