The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
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Filibuster Reform

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/10/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,375 times Debate No: 32335
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




Welcome to the debate. In this debate, I will be arguing that filibustering should be an offense if used in an official government setting. Opponent will refute. I have the burden of proof since I am the one making the claim.

1. First round is acceptance. All other rounds are for debating.
2. No profanity.
3. For this debate, filibuster will be defined as a party speaking for more than one hour at a time; this includes entire political parties.
4. Have fun with it!


You have the complete burden of proof. Good luck.
Debate Round No. 1


The purpose of filibustering is understood to be the delay or prevention of the vote on an issue. This tactic is a waste of taxpayer money as we are, essentially, paying elected officials to waste time. The goal of any government should be to run as effectively as possible, but this speaking marathon that some politicians choose to invoke prevents this goal from being met. It slows down the progress of government and only creates the problem of doing less work than is coming in. While freedom of speech is certainly a right not to be questioned, any amount of talking extending more than an hour is simply excessive and should not be permitted. An entire hour is ample time to make one's point clear. Every person's opinion in the government should have the opportunity to be voiced, but the use of filibustering goes against this idea, as it uses up others' time. Furthermore, for one political party to form a chain of filibusters is only a worsened form of this already unethical and inefficient tactic. Therefore, a standard rule that would give all politicians ample time and opportunity to voice their opinions and views would be to not allow members of the same political party to speak consecutively. While these suggested rules obviously have room for refinement, the basic claim remains the same in that there should some form of filibuster reform.


Filibuster is often touted as an idea to increase government efficiency and improve congressional effectiveness, however those who support filibuster seem to be blind to the ramifications of banning filibuster(-ing).

Filibuster is an effective tool in protecting the rights of the minority. Political scientist Gregory Koger writes "the majority and minority party haggle over the process for debating major legislation to ensure that members of both parties are able to deliberate fully. Without the minority party's power to filibuster, it is likely that the majority party in the Senate would be no more generous than its counterpart in the House". If the minority party was unable to filibuster, the majority party could simply steamroll its ideas through congress and ignore the will of a large portion of the population.

Former Senate Parliamentarian Robert Dove and former Senate staffer Richard Arenberg, in their recently published apologia, Defending the Filibuster: The Soul of the Senate, note that the filibuster does in fact bring ideologically divergent Senators to the table. In their experience, the ability of an individual or group of Senators to halt legislation spurs on a bill’s sponsor on to find a counterpart in the opposing party to work with him for passage. Indeed, a lawmaker will attempt to find a colleague as far as possible on the opposite end of the political spectrum, since that improves the likelihood that the Senators between them will support the measure. Such overtures, they say, are done at the very beginning of the legislative process, so this effect of the filibuster is not always appreciated. Also, If the filibuster can precipitate a compromise between Senators from the two different parties, then it stands to reason majority Members can more easily use the tactic to shape a piece of legislation. The use of the filibuster can certainly improve the chances of a compromise when the majority party supports a certain piece of legislation, but a handful of Senators are displeased with a provision or two. In such cases, the party’s holdouts—likely moderates—can pledge their votes for cloture in exchange for striking a portion or adding something to the legislation.

The filibuster can also prevent terrible, discriminatory or tyrannical legislation from being enacted by a majority. For example, Let’s say the imaginary Ameri-Nazi party wins 65 seats in the senate at some point in time. Without filibuster, the Ameri-Nazi could enact legislation limiting civil liberties and exterminating millions of people, along with override a presidential veto. If you think that could not happen, look at the German government in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Today, A more polarized Senate, with almost no ideological overlap between the parties, has accompanied, and most likely produced, a more fractious process. Changing the rules would treat one symptom -- delay and gridlock -- at the cost of exacerbating the underlying diseases: excessive partisanship and ideological extremism.


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Debate Round No. 2


thp078 forfeited this round.


Please extend my arguments.
Debate Round No. 3


My apologies for my lack of argument in the third round.

While the minority party certainly should not be ignored, if one's ideals are to become law, it is only fair that the majority have priority seeing as how they are the majority of the population.

Regarding the comprise aspect of filibustering, if this is the only way that lawmakers can come to a compromise, then the use of filibustering will only increase, leading to an even slower and less efficient government that the one that we have today that only uses it rarely. Should filibustering be done away with, lawmakers will be forced to seek compromises from less extreme circumstances as they most likely would not be so inactive as to cause a government shutdown. While there have been what some call "close calls" recently in the U.S., these were most likely bluffs in an effort to "turn up the heat."

While filibustering could theoretically prevent terrible, discriminatory, or tyrannical legislation from being enacted, it could also be used to prevent beneficial legislation. Say the majority party wanted to pass a law providing equality to all citizens regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc., but the minority party opposed. What would be stopping them from filibustering that law into never occurring? Nothing. Because there are no restrictions with filibustering as we know it today.

Filibustering only contributes to the already excessive partisanship because it causes parties to become annoyed with the one filibustering. The fact remains that filibustering only feeds the flames of partisanship and the sentiment to have it remain simply because the minority party might be getting the short end of the stick is absurd for reasons already explained.


First, while the majority should receive priority in having their ideals come into law, filibuster prevents a substantial portion of the population from coming into law (49.9% of the population could simply be ignored without filibuster).

My opponent then says that if filibuster were to be banned, that compromises and backing-down from extreme positions would increase, however the exact opposite is true. With only a 51% majority, extreme legislation could be enacted without so much as asking for the minority’s opinion before voting. If filibuster was outlawed, there is no reason to compromise because the minority party has no power whatsoever.

“Say the majority party wanted to pass a law providing equality to all citizens regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc., but the minority party opposed. What would be stopping them from filibustering that law into never occurring?”

  • This argument is essentially nullified by the fact that the United states already has complete legal equality among all people. Unless you can prove significant legal discrimination in the
    United states, your point is nullified (Please remember that you have the burden of Proof), and stands as a simple unjustified statement.

As I have shown, banning filibuster will only feed ideological extremism and will allow for tyrannical and discriminatory legislation. While filibuster may seem to breed inefficiency, it actually protects a large portion of the population and fosters compromise. My opponent has not fulfilled their burden of proof, therefore I urge you to vote Con!

Also-Please take note that my opponent used no sources whatsoever!

Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by tmar19652 3 years ago
The second word of my 2nd round argument should be "reform", i guess i missed that in proofreading.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Misterscruffles 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct- FF'd round Arguments- Con would have met BOP if he had it. Sources- con had better.