A federal judge in Washington Friday dismissed a suit that alleged the U.S. Senate filibuster rule is unconstitutional.
Judge Emmet Sullivan said "reaching the merits of this case would require an invasion" into internal Senate processes and "would thus express a lack of respect for the Senate."
"The court acknowledges at the outset that the Filibuster Rule is an important and controversial issue," Sullivan wrote. In recent years, the judge continued, "even the mere threat of a filibuster is powerful enough to completely forestall legislative action. However, this court finds itself powerless to address this issue for two independent reasons."
Sullivan said the plaintiffs, the government accountability group Common Cause, four members of the House of Representatives and three individuals, do not have legal standing to challenge the filibuster rule. The judge rejected the argument that vote nullificationthe alleged injury among the House membersreaches the threshold for legal standing.
"Second, and no less important, the court is firmly convinced that to intrude into this area would offend the separation of powers on which the Constitution rests," Sullivan said. "Nowhere does the Constitution contain express requirements regarding the proper length of, or method for, the Senate to debate proposed legislation."
Atlanta attorney Emmet Bondurant argued for Common Cause in court this month that the filibuster rule unfairly allows a single senator to block the will of the majority.
A Common Cause spokeswoman said the plaintiffs are considering appellate options.
"We still think it's a strong case," Mary Boyle said. "This was not a ruling on the merits of the constitutionality of the filibuster rule but whether we we have standing to sue."
--From the Blog of the Legal Times.