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The Filibuster Is a Direct Threat to American Democracy

It's not just about helping Democrats or making particular legislation possible. The filibuster actually endangers the whole edifice of civic democracy in America.
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 22: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill Mar... WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 22: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 22, 2022 in Washington, DC. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden's pick to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court, would become the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court if confirmed. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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July 26, 2022 4:17 p.m.

TPM Reader PT notes — and rightly so — that it’s actually remarkable that there are only four Democratic senators expressing any real level of resistance to changing the filibuster rules. That’s a massive sea change from as little as four or five years ago. As I’ve noted, I fully expect Warner and King to give way in short order if their constituents press them. Its really just the two odd men (people) out: Manchin and Sinema. Today and going forward it is impossible for a Democratic candidate to be elected to the Senate anywhere in the United States while supporting the filibuster. It’s anathema among Democrats. But in this post I wanted to step back from the immediate necessity and partisan advantages of ditching or scaling back the filibuster to note how important it is for the future of civic democracy in the United States for the filibuster to be abolished.

Filibuster defenders now usually argue some future advantage. Senator King says that what seems like an obstacle today will be needed as a shield in the future. Filibuster opponents correctly respond that it is folly to believe that the current Republican Party would hesitate for a moment to ditch the filibuster if it represented any meaningful obstacle to getting anything they wanted. They took the wildly unprecedented step of refusing to entertain a Supreme Court nomination for an entire year to steal the seat left vacant by Antonin Scalia. They ditched the filibuster for Supreme Court appointments as soon as they had the chance to pack the Court under Trump. Everything we know about the current GOP tells us it’s folly to believe they’d hesitate.

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