Filibuster is a welcome tool

From the start, the filibuster has been a frequently used method in the Senate to block or stall the passage of legislation.

Over the years, the rules have been modified or changed to suit the majority party. Therefore, both parties have been responsible for setting the rules of filibuster and cloture in order to suit their current needs and desires.

So it is, today, that the Democrats are pushing various pieces of legislation to enhance their agendas of social justice and amnesty and citizenship for illegal immigrants. The Democrats are convinced these illegals, upon obtaining citizenship, will register as Democratic voters, thereby adding a possible 11 million new members to the Democratic Party.

That the vast majority of people are opposed to this proposal of the Democrats has no bearing or influence on the self-serving and corrupt politicians in the Senate. Survival in office and enhanced power are their only concerns. Therefore, the filibuster is a necessary and welcome tool to ensure the will of the people prevails in the legislative process.

Ernest Hampson

Pittsburg

Democracy better without filibuster

By all means, the Senate should change the filibuster rules. A citizen majority should govern, not a minority who can overrule their will.

The argument that a minority must be protected fails to take into account that they can prevent action that is needed for action. We see it now with Congress at a standstill because an intransigent Republican minority in the Senate stymies needed legislation.

Unfortunately, Republicans control the House. The impasse between the Senate and House is a separate issue.

The basic requirement of democracy is that a majority should be in charge politically.

Albert J. Rothman

Livermore

Times' hypocrisy on filibusters

A Dec. 4 Times editorial, "Senate rules on filibusters need reform," condemned Republican filibusters -- especially those opposing four specific Democrat-sponsored bills and "nearly two dozen judicial appointments" -- but with no mention whatever of GOP rationales for resistance.

Democratic leaders themselves opposed filibuster rules changes as a dangerous "nuclear option" in 2005, when Republicans controlled the Senate. (Google "YouTube, Democrat hypocrisy on display" for related comments by then-Sens. Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, along with Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, et al.)

Back then, the Times itself called such contemplated rules changes "disconcerting."

The filibuster, "abused in the past," said the April 18, 2005 Times editorial, "arguably is being misused now" (by Democrats). But it's "an important tool in preventing the 'tyranny of the majority.' The Constitution places several hurdles in front of pure majority rule to safeguard minority rights. These protections ... encourage consensus-building and moderation, both of which are in short supply in the Senate."

Attentive readers will also recall the rank absence of consensus-building when Democrats unilaterally rammed Obamacare through both the Senate and the House.

Sharon Arata

Danville

Filibuster hinders democracy

The unacceptably anti-democratic filibuster should have been abolished years ago, as it compounds the already anti-democratic Senate.

The Founders established the House as an egalitarian representative democracy, but acquiesced to then-legitimate, tyranny-of-the-majority concerns of lesser populated colonies by allotting each state just two senators.

Ironically, with today's filibuster, this has allowed a few sparsely populated states, representing a minuscule fraction of the American people, to anti-democratically wield veto power over any legislation, resulting in tyranny of the minority.

Change is needed. It took the 17th Amendment to the Constitution before we even achieved direct election of senators by popular vote.

In the interest of democracy, dividing large states such as California into several smaller states would ameliorate the millions of underrepresented Californians with additional representational parity in the Senate.

Conversely, we could create an entirely new national formula for allocating senators based upon sub-state geo-metro areas, allocating senators more democratically -- say, giving the regions surrounding San Diego, Los Angeles-Orange County, Sacramento Valley and the Bay Area two senators each.

However, the immediate resolution is to abolish the filibuster altogether.

Ed Chainey

Richmond

It is an option being used too often

The Senate Historical Office says that since January 2009, a record number of filibusters have been used.

Within the Senate, a radical anti-government, right-wing minority has used this privilege to obstruct 100 bills (not counting the 33 unconfirmed judicial nominees) proposed by the Obama administration, thus preventing these bills from receive an up-or-down vote when many were supported by a majority of American voters.

Gary William Molitor

San Leandro

Reforms in uses are long overdue

The filibuster is not part of the Constitution, but rather a set of rules developed by the Senate for itself and it has evolved over time.

Whereas the filibuster was once used only in extreme cases, it is even used to obstruct the confirmation of judges and other executive appointments by a president on a regular basis especially by the Republican senators opposing President Barack Obama.

There are many changes that the Senate can enact to improve the process as suggested by Mark Udall, D-Colo., leaving the goal of maintaining a filibuster intact. It should be reformed, but the partisan nature of the Senate makes it doubtful.

The most obvious reform would be to demand a senator who wishes to filibuster do so in person. Another reform would be to change certain votes to a 51 majority as in the case cited above.

Anne Spanier

Alameda

Modest proposal to clear the air

An emphatic "yes" to changing the filibuster rules. The Senate should eliminate the filibuster in its entirety.

On a per-capita basis, the average human emits about 1 kilogram of carbon dioxide a year via the natural processes of exhalation and flatulence. Studies have revealed that the average politician produces at least 897 times that amount.

Nobody can argue with the vital need for humans to reduce the global warming effect of man-made carbon dioxide.

Eliminating filibusters would thus be a giant step forward for mankind in this endeavor. Indeed, limiting all members of Congress to one speech per week, of no longer than two minutes in length, would probably clear the air completely.

Christopher Panton

Walnut Creek

Filibuster is a useful tactic

In the Senate, a filibuster is a tactic used to block opponents' bills.

The presiding officer gives a senator permission to talk indefinitely until the Senate passes a "cloture" resolution of 60 votes (three-fifths of the entire Senate).

I think it should remain a process because it buys time to pass a bill, which is usually unpopular.

Mary McMahon

Livermore

Obstructionism is disgusting

"Freedom of debate" is the term commonly used to justify the congressional filibuster.

This technique is used by the minority to prevent action by the majority on a bill to be voted upon in the Senate. The Senate provides for debate on the issue to be voted upon "in a timely manner."

The philosophical foundation of the filibuster is to protect minority rights. A filibuster prevents voting by usually lengthy verbal rambling (once done for 22 hours) by a single senator. In his Manual of Parliamentary Practice, Vice President Thomas Jefferson wrote, "No one is to speak impertinently or beside the question, superfluously, or tediously." Every filibuster violates this rule.

This is a coward's way of being irresponsible and disrespectful to the electorate which they represent -- We the People. The minority should have the right to debate, but not to conspire to block a vote by filibuster.

Contact Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Capitol switchboard, 202-224-3121); and let them know this practice shouldn't be allowed.

Obstructionism is disgusting. Our American freedom is upheld with open debate of issues and timely votes of conscience.

John Soulis

Fremont