WASHINGTON, D.C. – Disappointing news has come down from Judge Sullivan inCommon Cause v. Biden, the lawsuit filed by Common Cause on behalf of DREAMers that were denied the process of government by an aggressively-abused senate filibuster. The judge has dismissed the case, saying that nobody had standing, and that it’s a “political question” and thus not right for the court to decide.
In the modern Senate, it is undeniable that it has become nearly impossible to do anything without 60 votes due to the filibuster; the filibuster is all but routine. Worse, the filibuster has become both logistically and politically convenient as it is just filed; Senators are no longer required to actually stand and speak. With this, there is almost no cost to filing a filibuster and no way for Latino voters to see who is blocking or will block immigration. This has lead to the most filibusters and least productive and popular Congress in history.
“We’re very disappointed, however, there are other avenues of filibuster reform, and we’re optimistic about our chances on appeal if it should come to that” said Erika Andiola, a plaintiff in the case. “There is a chance to fix the Senate rules on January 3rdwith a straight up or down vote in the Senate to ensure immigration reform can move forward in 2013. In addition, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is talking with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell about options to see if there is a less one-sided compromise to be made.”
While there are certainly difficult legal issues, there is clearly a constitutional argument as the Framers of the Constitution intended the Senate to only ever be a majority rule body: as far back as the Federalist Papers, the Framers left a record of their debate and explicit rejection of having the Senate require 60 votes to get anything done. Additionally, the DREAMers have certainly had their lives drastically affected by the filibuster: they’ve been denied licenses, the right to work and the right to citizenship that would have been theirs had the Senate voted on the DREAM Act during the Lame Duck session. This alone should grant them standing, and may help Common Cause on their appeal should the filibuster issue not be solved in the Senate first.