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What Is The Filibuster And How Is It Really Used?


On this episode of The Federalist Radio Hour, Howard Segermark, longtime legislative counsel for multiple senators, joins Senior Editor Christopher Bedford and Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky to explain the filibuster and why the Democrats’ recent push to abolish it could be dangerous to the integrity of the U.S. Senate.

“The Senate is there, designed by the founders to give minority rights as much as possible. And in this case, it had to do with small states, giving them rights,” Segermark said. “There’s, you know, there’s nowhere to go if in fact there’s simply a democratic elected tyranny.”

The Senate not only protects the rights and voice of the minority by stalling, but it also gives senators the opportunity to negotiate and pass legislation despite opposition from an administration and other members of Congress.

“One of the reasons the Senate was set up is to preserve minority rights and the filibuster is a classic situation of that because every senator has the right to use these tools even if, in fact, he’d be voted out 99 to one,” Segermark concluded. “And certainly that’s the way [Sen. Jesse Helms] addressed it. If you can’t get a majority at least he’s going to make his case. Since he was skilled in timing and in using this tool, he was successful many times. It wasn’t earth-shaking successes, but a little bit of time adds up.”

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