Filibuster Fight Heads to Court

House Dems sue over 'accident of history'

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 10, 2012 12:09 PM CST

(Newser) – The battle over the Senate filibuster is moving beyond Capitol Hill gridlock and into the courtroom: While Harry Reid fights the procedural tactic in the Senate, four House Democrats have taken the matter to the federal courts. They're joined in their lawsuit by Common Cause, a nonpartisan reform organization. The opponents call the filibuster "an accident of history," arguing that it's unconstitutional because it's "inconsistent with the principle of majority rule." A hearing today, however, may result in the case's dismissal.

Previous legal challenges over Senate rules have been tossed, the Washington Post notes, and Senate lawyers argue that the Constitution doesn't allow lawsuits over legislative processes. Meanwhile, Reid's own battle continues. Senators in both parties are concerned he could change filibuster rules by ramming the measure through with 51 votes, rather than a two-thirds majority. That could set a precedent expanding the majority party's power, Politico notes. Leading Republicans are seeking Dems' support to prevent that outcome. "We’d all like to avert the nuclear option," says Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. pauses during his news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, following a Democratic strategy session.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. pauses during his news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, following a Democratic strategy session.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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