Former Senator Carl Levin’s Defense of the FilibusterThe Federalist Society
President Joe Biden’s announcement that he is open to reforming the Senate’s filibuster has energized calls from progressives to eliminate the Senate minority’s most powerful procedural tactic to block legislation or force compromise. But in his new memoir, Getting to the Heart of the Matter: My 36 Years in the Senate, former Michigan Senator Carl Levin makes the case for maintaining the filibuster as a central characteristic of the “world’s greatest deliberative body.”
Levin explains that he entered the Senate in 1979 with conflicting views about the filibuster. One was the romantic vision from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington of a Senator using the tactic to champion a noble cause. The other was as a legislative tactic to block progress, notably southern senators’ use of the filibuster to stall civil rights legislation.
But during his decades in the Senate, Levin came to appreciate that the filibuster, and the broader rights of the minority within the legislative chamber, are essential aspects of the Senate’s unique role in American government.
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