Defending the Filibuster by Richard A. Arenberg
The Soul of the Senate

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Recent legislative battles over healthcare reform, the federal budget, and other prominent issues have given rise to widespread demands for the abolition or reform of the filibuster in the US Senate. Critics argue that members’ traditional rights of unlimited debate and amendment have led to paralyzing requirements for supermajorities and destructive parliamentary tactics such as "secret holds." In Defending the Filibuster, a veteran Senate aide and a former Senate Parliamentarian maintain that the filibuster is fundamental to the character of the Senate. They contend that the filibuster protects the rights of the minority in American politics, assures stability and deliberation in government, and helps to preserve constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers. Richard A. Arenberg and Robert B. Dove provide an instructive historical overview of the development of Senate rules, define and describe related procedures and tactics, examine cases related to specific pieces of legislation, and consider current proposals to end the filibuster or enact other reforms. Arguing passionately in favor of retaining the filibuster, they offer a stimulating assessment of the issues surrounding current debates on this contentious issue.


About Richard A. Arenberg

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Richard A. Arenberg served in senior congressional staff positions for 34 years as an aide to Majority Leader George Mitchell and Senators Paul Tsongas and Carl Levin. He is an Adjunct Lecturer in Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University, Northeastern University, and Suffolk University. Robert B. Dove is Parliamentarian Emeritus of the US Senate, having served as the Senate's Parliamentarian and Assistant Parliamentarian from 1966 to 2001. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, George Washington University, and George Mason University.
Published August 21, 2012 by Indiana University Press. 288 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Arenberg and Dove effectively demystify the arcane rules and customs that make possible the filibuster and related tactics like holds and “filling the amendment tree,” and they explain why perennial reform suggestions like requiring old-fashioned marathon speaking filibusters or ratcheting clotur...

Aug 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Defending the Filibuster: The...

ForeWord Reviews

In Defending the Filibuster: The Soul of the Senate, longtime Senate experts Richard Arenberg and Robert Dove argue that while the filibuster and other Senate rules have undoubtedly been severely abused in recent years, the fault lies with the abusers and not the filibuster itself.

Aug 21 2012 | Read Full Review of Defending the Filibuster: The...

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