Defending the Filibuster

Defending the Filibuster

The Soul of the Senate
Richard A. Arenberg and Robert B. Dove
Foreword by Senator Mark Udall and Senator Ted Kaufman
Distribution: World
Publication date: 7/31/2012
Format: cloth 288 pages
6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-253-00191-7
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Description

Winner, 2012 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year, Gold Medal in Political Science
Recent legislative battles over healthcare reform, the federal budget, and other prominent issues have given rise to widespread demands for the abolition or reform of the filibuster in the US Senate. Critics argue that members’ traditional rights of unlimited debate and amendment have led to paralyzing requirements for supermajorities and destructive parliamentary tactics such as “secret holds.” In Defending the Filibuster, a veteran Senate aide and a former Senate Parliamentarian maintain that the filibuster is fundamental to the character of the Senate. They contend that the filibuster protects the rights of the minority in American politics, assures stability and deliberation in government, and helps to preserve constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers. Richard A. Arenberg and Robert B. Dove provide an instructive historical overview of the development of Senate rules, define and describe related procedures and tactics, examine cases related to specific pieces of legislation, and consider current proposals to end the filibuster or enact other reforms. Arguing passionately in favor of retaining the filibuster, they offer a stimulating assessment of the issues surrounding current debates on this contentious issue.

Author Bio

RICHARD A. ARENBERG served in senior congressional staff positions for 34 years as an aide to Majority Leader George Mitchell and Senators Paul Tsongas and Carl Levin. He currently is an Adjunct Lecturer in Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University, Northeastern University, and Suffolk University.

ROBERT B. DOVE is Parliamentarian Emeritus of the U.S. Senate, having served as the Senate’s Parliamentarian and Assistant Parliamentarian from 1966 until 2001. He has provided expert parliamentary advice to legislatures around the world. He currently is an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, George Washington University, and George Mason University and counsels members of the Patton Boggs law firm on congressional procedure.

Reviews

"A timely, well-researched, and cogently argued defense of the filibuster by two veterans of the Senate staff who understand the issue and its consequences." —Donald A. Ritchie, author of The U.S. Congress: A Very Short Introduction

"As we would expect from two experts who were part of so many historic Senate debates in the past thirty years, Rich Arenberg and Bob Dove have written an historically grounded and eloquent defense of the Senate’s tradition of protecting minority views by allowing extended debate until 60 Senators vote to end it. They defend this tradition as the ‘soul of the Senate’ because it protects minority rights and helps Senators reach a consensus or compromise on controversial legislation. They acknowledge that those who have routinely and repeatedly resorted to the threat of the filibuster in recent years are abusing the rules, but Arenberg and Dove offer some practical reforms to the Senate rules that preserve the principle while removing the abuse, such as limiting or even eliminating debate on the motion to proceed to a bill. But ultimately, as the book effectively demonstrates, the problem of gridlock and obstruction in the Senate is not so much in the Senate rules, but rather, as Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, puts it, ‘It is in the lack of restraint in the exercise of the prerogatives under the rules.’" —Senator Carl Levin

"In this excellent volume, two extraordinarily qualified Senate veterans explain and defend, with clarity and impressive research, the Senate filibuster. With their deep understanding of, and respect for, the institution of the Senate, they point to the need to protect minority rights and to build consensus—and they propose evolutionary reforms to reduce filibuster abuse. This book deserves to be read and considered carefully by all who respect, and want to understand better, the world’s greatest deliberative body." —Lee H. Hamilton, former US Representative; Director, the Center on Congress at Indiana University

"During my years in the Senate, I learned that you should never get involved in a legislative fight without Bob Dove's advice on counsel. Nobody knows more about the rules and history of the Senate than he does.
Defending the Filibuster: Soul of the Senate should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand one of the hallmarks of our democracy." —Bob Dole, former US Senator

"While I am not a fan of the filibuster, this is probably the most thoughtful treatment of the subject ever written and well worth pondering even for those of us who think it is profoundly undemocratic. A must read for any student of the Congressional process." —Former Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Michael Dukakis

"To anyone who knows and loves the Senate, and to anyone who wants to know more about American politics and history, this book is a joy to read. Two of the most respected people to work in the Senate over the past several decades have teamed up to write a book about the filibuster, but not just a memoir or a rigid defense of the practice. Rich Arenberg and Bob Dove provide fascinating history, much of it new to me, insightful examples from their own service, and reasoned arguments in clear language. Every reformer, including those who want to eliminate the filibuster entirely, and those who want to change it to fit the times, owes it to himself or herself to read this book and ponder the authors' message. If it doesn't make you stop and think through your own assumptions again, the problem lies with you and not in this excellent book." —Norman Ornstein

"An historically grounded and eloquent defense of the Senate's tradition of protecting minority views by allowing extended debate until sixty Senators vote to end it." —Senator Carl Levin

"Regardless of whether you agree with [the authors'] conclusions, the book will be a must read for anyone who wants to be a part of the debate about how to improve the function of the Senate." —
Roll Call

"An impassioned and cogent defense of the Senate's most controversial practice." —Kirkus Reviews

"Clearly written and amply supported, Defending the Filibuster is a must-read for all Americans, especially during these highly contentious times." —joannalouisejohnson.com

"Arenberg and Dove successfully explain why, despite its flaws, the filibuster is worth preserving or reforming rather than eliminating." —ForeWord Reviews

"Rich in historical anecdotes about instances when the strange antics to delay Senate decisions actually led to better policy making, this book will become the 'go to' authority on the filibuster. This volume should be valuable to general readers, students, and research faculty. . . . Highly recommended." —Choice

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
Chapter One
Soul of the Senate
Chapter Two
Filibuster, Cloture, and Unfettered Amendment
Chapter Three
History of the Filibuster
Chapter Four
Polarized Politics and the Use and Abuse of the Filibuster
Chapter Five
Criticisms of the Filibuster
Chapter Six
The Dangers of Overzealous Reform
Chapter Seven
Related Tactics: Holds
Chapter Eight
Related Tactics: Filling the Amendment Tree
Chapter Nine
Circumventing the Filibuster: Reconciliation
Chapter Ten
Reforming the Filibuster: The Constitutional Option
Chapter Eleven Reforming the Filibuster: The Nuclear Option
Chapter Twelve Bring In the Cots
Chapter Thirteen Defending the Filibuster
Epilogue
Appendix
Bibliography
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