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Lesson Plans
  1. Filibuster Lesson (
      "The battle over judicial nominations has been going on for nearly two decades in the otherwise courteous atmosphere of the Senate. The Constitution provides the president will appoint his choices for the federal judiciary and the Senate will provide 'advice and consent' on these nominations. Generally, this process has worked well over the years in regards to judicial nominations. However, during the Reagan administration and continuing through the Clinton and G.W. Bush administrations the process has been more acrimonious. Senators from either parties at one time or another have used tactics and procedures to delay or eliminate a president's choice for confirmation." 5-05

  1. Essay Against the "Nuclear Option" for Changing Senate Rules (
      "A group of Republicans, led by Majority Leader Bill Frist, intends to propose a rule change so as to allow a simple majority of senators to cut off debate on judicial nominees. Sen. Frist has referred to judicial filibusters undertaken by the Democrats as 'an affront to the advice-and-consent power of our Constitution.' In fact, the Republican proposal to infringe on the right of the Democrats to speak out on nominees threatens the very balance of power among the three branches of government." 4-05

  2. Essay Supporting the "Nuclear Option" for Changing Senate Rules (
      "With a Senate minority now obstructing up-or-down floor votes on several judicial nominations and other nominations languishing for hundreds of days under the threat of filibusters, all while there is a vacancy crisis plaguing the federal appellate bench, the time has certainly come for the Senate majority to seriously consider re-exercising the 'nuclear option.' "

      "The way this procedural maneuver would work as it did in 1975 would be that, at the time of a cloture vote to end debate, the Senate majority would secure a ruling from the chair that Standing Rule XXII does not apply. The chair, likely the Vice President, would probably agree and rule in favor of the majority. The issue would then be brought to a vote, and the minority, probably through the Minority Leader, would note that the issue is debatable and, hence, also subject to a filibuster." "The parliamentarian, relying on Senate precedent, would agree. The chair would then recognize a non-debatable motion to table. At this point, the majority could overrule the anti-majoritarian precedent, uphold the ruling of the chair, and proceed to a final yea-or-nay vote on the original question by securing a simple majority vote in favor of the motion to table." 4-05

  3. Filibusters, A History (U.S. Senate)
      "Using the filibuster to delay or block legislative action has a long history. The term filibuster -- from a Dutch word meaning "pirate" -- became popular in the 1850s, when it was applied to efforts to hold the Senate floor in order to prevent a vote on a bill."

      "In the early years of Congress, representatives as well as senators could filibuster. As the House of Representatives grew in numbers, however, revisions to the House rules limited debate. In the smaller Senate, unlimited debate continued on the grounds that any senator should have the right to speak as long as necessary on any issue." 5-05


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