Regardless of party in power, filibuster power is worthwhile

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: July 3, 2013
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Davis' filibuster not only affected the abortion bill, but also prevented action on other measures. One bill she indirectly killed would have funded major transportation projects. Another would have revised Texas law to conform with a U.S. Supreme Court decision banning mandatory prison sentences of life without parole for offenders younger than 18.

Obama was praising a Texas lawmaker for engaging in the same tactics he previously derided as obstructionist when filibusters blocked his pet bills, even though Davis' filibuster had the same impact and bottled up unrelated bills likely favored by many.

We won't pretend this surprises us. Obama's motives are as transparent as his ego is boundless. In Obama's world, a filibuster is bad if it impedes legislation favored by liberals, good if it blocks legislation favored by conservatives. Consistency and careful analysis of actual bills' merits play no role in his calculation.

Unlike Obama, we're not amending our view. We've argued before that the U.S. Senate is designed to slow things down and force compromise while keeping the minority from getting steamrolled. It isn't supposed to be a smaller version of the House of Representatives.

Used judiciously, the filibuster can keep flawed or overly partisan legislation bottled up — no matter which party is in power. Should Republicans regain control of the Senate in 2014, we've no doubt the Obama of 2005 will reappear to defend state-level and congressional filibusters.

And he'll pretend that there's no contradiction with the Obama of 2012.

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