A Filibuster By Any Other Name, and the Politics of Civility

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on February 17, 2011

By now, most people have heard that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wants to restrict the power of unions in his state–a public policy move with plenty of intellectual rigor to justify it. To implement this policy, he needs the support of the state legislature. In the Wisconsin state senate, Republicans hold a 19-14 advantage, and would be able to pass Walker’s proposal, but they need 20 senators to show up for a quorum. Democratic senators, who oppose the Walker move, are boycotting the senate in order to deny Republicans a quorum, and prevent a vote from taking place.

Curiously enough, the usual suspects who decry Republican filibusters in the United States Senate as being fundamentally anti-democratic in nature, are nowhere to be found when it comes to taking the absentee Wisconsin state senators to task for trying to prevent the majority in the Wisconsin state senate from working its will. At least, Rule 22 of U.S. Senate rules allows for the filibuster. I am no expert on the parliamentary rules governing the operation of the Wisconsin state senate, but I am pretty sure that an organized boycott of senate sessions is not allowed.

Oh, and by the way, check out this. And this. Joseph Welch, thou shouldst be living at this hour.

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