Now there's a renewed effort to revive another avenue of reform: the courts.
A lawsuit filed Monday by Atlanta-area Democratic U.S. Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson, among others, argues that the 60-vote hurdle to conduct Senate business is unconstitutional because it subverts the idea of majority rule.The suit focuses in particular on the failure to pass the Disclose Act and the Dream Act.
Filed in federal court in Washington, the suit argues that the filibuster gives a minority of one legislative chamber veto power over all three branches of government, by allowing frequent blocking of executive and judicial nominees.
I'm not hugely optimistic about the prospects of the suit, simply because federal courts are normally loathe to get involved in the business of the political branches, particularly (you would think) where internal, procedural rulemaking is concerned. Nor am I 100 percent convinced it's a great idea to throw Congressional rulemaking open to the Roberts/Scalia judiciary. But I'll admit it was fascinating and enjoyable discussing the idea with lead counsel in the suit, Emmet Bondurant (who recently laid out his case to Ezra Klein), at an NYU Law school panel on filibuster reform a few years ago. (Brag, brag, brag! Yes, sometimes your Cheeto-munching front pagers masquerade as Very Serious People.)
Still, at the very least, perhaps the threat of outside forces acting on the Senate rules will be a motivating factor for the senators to clean their own house, before anyone else—particularly another branch of government (and one arguably in the unaccountable hands of conservative ideologues, at that)—takes the opportunity to do it for them.