Sunday, May 15, 2005

Politics or Principle? Filibustering in the United States Senate by Sarah A. Binder and Steven S. Smith

Heard Smith on C-Span yesterday talk about his new book written with Sarah Binder on a history of the filibuster
They [Binder and Smith] argue that in an era of unprecedented filibustering and related obstructionism, old habits are indeed undermining the Senate's ability to meet its responsibilities. Binder and Smith scrutinize conventional wisdom about the filibuster—and show that very little of it is true. They focus on five major myths: that unlimited debate is a fundamental right to differentiate the Senate from the House of Representatives; that the Senate's tradition as a deliberative body requires unlimited debate; that the filibuster is reserved for a few issues of the utmost national importance; that few measures are actually killed by the filibuster; and that senators resist changing the rules because of a principled commitment to deliberation. In revising conventional wisdom about the filibuster, Binder and Smith contribute to ongoing debates about the dynamics of institutional change in the American political system.

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