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Supreme Court declines to rule on Senate filibuster challenge
Supreme Court declines to rule on Senate filibuster challenge

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday denied certiorari [order list, PDF] in an appeal challenging the constitutionality of the Senate filibuster [US Senate backgrounder]. The appeal was brought by four members of the US House of Representatives [official website] and the organization Common Cause [advocacy website] and sought to overturn an April ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] which found [JURIST report] that the district court properly dismissed the lawsuit. The district court dismissed [JURIST report] the lawsuit on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked standing. On appeal the circuit court held that the lawsuit named the wrong party as a defendant. The lawsuit named Vice President Joe Biden, in his capacity as President of the Senate, the Secretary of the Senate, the Parliamentarian of the Senate, and the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate [official profiles]. Common Cause contends [AP report] that it is barred from suing the Senate directly under the Constitution’s Speech and Debate Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder].

The filibuster, which allows Senators to effectively defeat legislation that has majority support, has been a long-standing tradition in the Senate but has received significant criticism in recent years. Under rule XXII 60 votes are need to invoke cloture, or end debate. In May of 2012 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [official website] called for reforms [Huffington Post report] to the rule, referencing bills which received majority support only to be defeated by filibuster. In November Senate Democrats utilized a rare parliamentary move [WP report] to change the Senate filibuster rules for federal judicial nominees and executive appointments, the first such change in decades.