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Lawsuit Claiming Filibuster Unconstitutional Dismissed

Posted By Hans von Spakovsky On December 21, 2012 @ 9:05 pm In Featured | Comments Disabled

Today, District of Columbia federal Judge Emmett Sullivan dismissed the frivolous lawsuit [1] filed by Common Cause and Representatives Mike Michaud (D–ME), Hank Johnson (D–GA), John Lewis (D–GA), and Keith Ellison (D–MN) claiming that the Senate’s rule on filibustering is somehow unconstitutional. They were also joined by three illegal aliens who claimed [2] they were “denied a path to American citizenship because of the repeated Senate filibusters of the House-passed DREAM Act.”

Common Cause argued that Rule 22—which requires a vote of 60 senators to proceed with or close debate on bills or presidential nominations and a two-thirds vote to proceed with or close debate on proposed amendments to the Senate rules—is unconstitutional because it is “inconsistent with the principle of majority rule.”

Of course, under the Common Cause formulation of majority rule, the Senate itself would be “unconstitutional” given that every state has two senators no matter how small or large they are in population. Obviously, representation in the Senate is not based on majoritarian principles.

However, Judge Sullivan found that none of the plaintiffs had standing to sue. Claiming that their votes as House members were somehow nullified by the filibuster rule did not give the congressmen standing. The illegal aliens had no standing because of their claimed “inability to take advantage of the opportunity to benefit from proposed legislation that was never debated, let alone enacted.”

Moreover, Judge Sullivan concluded that [3], “to intrude into this area would offend the separation of powers on which the Constitutional rests. Nowhere does the Constitution contain express requirements regarding the proper length of, or method for, the Senate to debate proposed legislation. Article I reserves to each House the power to determine the rules of its proceedings…the internal proceedings of the Legislative Branch are beyond the jurisdiction of this Court.”

This lawsuit, Common Cause v. Biden, was a publicity stunt from the start since there was no viable or legitimate cause of action over the internal rules of procedure of the Senate.


Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/12/21/lawsuit-claiming-filibuster-unconstitutional-dismissed/

URLs in this post:

[1] dismissed the frivolous lawsuit: http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/12/filibuster-challenge-fails/

[2] three illegal aliens who claimed: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2chambers/wp/2012/12/10/senate-filibuster-faces-federal-court-challenge/

[3] concluded that: https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2012cv0775-25

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