Defending the Filibuster

Defending the Filibuster

The Soul of the Senate
Revised and Updated Edition
Richard A. Arenberg and Robert B. Dove
With a New Foreword by Senator Olympia Snowe
Distribution: World
Publication date: 12/12/2014
ISBN: 978-0-253-01631-7
Bookmark and Share

Available through various retailers

Other formats available:


Winner, 2012 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year, Gold Medal in Political Science
Many argue that the Senate filibuster is undemocratic or even unconstitutional. Recent legislative disputes have brought criticism of Senate rules into sharp relief, and demands for abolition or reform of the filibuster have increased. 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, protecting the rights of the minority in American politics, assuring stability and deliberation in government, and helping 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, describe related procedures and tactics, and argue passionately for measured reforms.

Thoroughly updated to reflect recent events, this edition includes a new chapter recounting the events of 2012–13 that led to the first use of the "nuclear option" to restrict the use of the filibuster for presidential nominations, as well as a new foreword by former US Senator Olympia Snowe. The authors offer a stimulating assessment of the likelihood of further changes in Senate procedure and make their own proposals for reform.

Author Bio

Richard A. Arenberg served in senior congressional staff positions for 34 years as aide to Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and Senators Paul Tsongas and Carl Levin. He is Adjunct Lecturer in Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University.

Robert B. Dove is Parliamentarian Emeritus of the US Senate, having served as the Senate's Parliamentarian and Assistant Parliamentarian from 1966 to 2001. He is Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, George Washington University, and George Mason University.


"An impassioned and cogent defense of the Senate's most controversial practice." —Kirkus Reviews , reviewing a previous edition or volume

"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. (Reviewing a previous edition)" —
Roll Call , reviewing a previous edition or volume

"Arenberg and Dove successfully explain why, despite its flaws, the filibuster is worth preserving or reforming rather than eliminating. (Reviewing a previous edition)" —
ForeWord Reviews , reviewing a previous edition or volume

"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. (Reviewing a previous edition.)" —
Choice , reviewing a previous edition or volume

"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

"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

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Senator Olympia Snowe
1. Soul of the Senate
2. Filibuster, Cloture, and Unfettered Amendment
3. History of the Filibuster
4. Polarized Politics and the Use and Abuse of the Filibuster
5. Criticisms of the Filibuster
6. The Dangers of Overzealous Reform
7. Related Tactics: Holds
8. Related Tactics: Filling the Amendment Tree
9. Circumventing the Filibuster: Reconciliation
10. Reforming the Filibuster: The Constitutional Option
11. Reforming the Filibuster: The Nuclear Option
12. Bring in the Cots
13. Defending the Filibuster
14. Looking Ahead
Selected Bibliography