filibuster

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filibuster,

term used to designate obstructionist tactics in legislative assemblies. It has particular reference to the U.S. Senate, where the tradition of unlimited debate is very strong. It was not until 1917 that the Senate provided for cloture (i.e., the ending of the debate) by a vote of two thirds of the senators present; three fifths are now generally required. Yet, despite many attempts, cloture has been applied only rarely. The filibuster has been used by various blocs of senators for different purposes; for example, by conservatives resisting civil-rights legislation in the 1960s, and by liberals resisting cuts in the capital gains tax in 1991. At times the threat of a filibuster has been sufficient to prevent a bill from being debated and voted on. Bills favored by President ObamaObama, Barack
(Barack Hussein Obama 2d), , 1961–, 44th president of the United States (2009–17), b. Honolulu, grad. Columbia (B.A. 1983), Harvard Law School (J.D. 1991).
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 have been filibustered more often than those of any other president. The threat of a filibuster has also been used to prevent a vote on presidential nominees to executive and judicial posts, and in 2013 the Senate rules for those nominees were changed so that only a majority vote was required to end debate.

In the 17th cent. the word was applied to buccaneers who plundered the Spanish colonies in the New World. In the 19th cent. the term was used more in reference to adventurers who organized and led, under private initiative, armed expeditions into countries with which the country from which they set out was at peace. Complications between the governments involved were likely to result. There was a series of filibustering expeditions from the United States against Cuba, Mexico, and Central and South American countries in the 19th cent., some of them led by citizens of the United States, as those of John A. QuitmanQuitman, John Anthony,
1798–1858, American general and politician, b. Rhinebeck, N.Y. He settled in Natchez, Miss., where he practiced law and held a series of political offices, serving in the state legislature and as acting governor (1835–36).
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 and William WalkerWalker, William,
1824–60, American filibuster in Nicaragua, b. Nashville, Tenn. Walker, a qualified doctor, a lawyer, and a journalist by the time he was 24, sought a more adventurous career.
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, and some by rebellious citizens of the government they sought to overthrow, as those of Narciso LópezLópez, Narciso
, 1798?–1851, Spanish-American soldier, b. Venezuela. After serving in the Spanish army during the Venezuelan revolution against Spain, he left his native country for Cuba (1823).
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 against Cuba. Texas, when it was still part of Mexico, was the scene of many such filibustering activities.

Bibliography

For works on legislative filibusters, see F. L. Burdette, Filibustering in the Senate (1940, repr. 1965), S. A. Binder and S. S. Smith, Politics or Principle?: Filibustering in the United States Senate (1996), G. Koger, Filibustering (2010), and R. Arenberg and R. Dove, Defending the Filibuster (2012).

For works on earlier senses of filibuster, see J. J. Roche, By-Ways of War: The Story of the Filibusters (1901), H. G. Warren, The Sword Was Their Passport (1943), and J. A. Stout, The Liberators (1973).

filibuster

1. Politics the process or an instance of obstructing legislation by means of long speeches and other delaying tactics
2. History a buccaneer, freebooter, or irregular military adventurer, esp a revolutionary in a foreign country
References in periodicals archive ?
Although it is funny that most young people think filibustering is a slang sex term, I think it reveals a deeper problem that most 18- to 25-year-olds aren't engaged or educated in politics enough.
Fifth, after a certain period of debate has elapsed--during which filibustering can occur--allow a majority to set a limit for individual speeches on a pending question to something like two hours.
9) The term "nuclear option" dates at least as far back as 2005, when, ironically, then Senate Republican majority leader Bill Frist (R-TN) threatened to use "the nuclear option" to prevent the filibustering of President Bush's judicial nominees.
Changes that balance limits on filibustering with increased protection for minorities in other areas have the potential to ratchet down polarization and partisan recrimination.
understand itself to be filibustering, a cloture motion is filed, and
If] any Member [who signed the accord] considered that another Member was filibustering a judge under a circumstance that was not extraordinary, [then] any Member had the right to pull out of that agreement and to go back and say: I am going to use the constitutional option to change .
Senate should continue to allow filibustering for a president's judicial nominations.
Rather, left-wing senators refused to allow a vote on Myers by the full Senate--in much the same fashion as the Democrats have prevented the Senate from considering about one-fourth of the president's nominations to the appellate courts, through filibustering.
According to an advisory by People for the American Way, Senate Democrats assented to 95 percent of Bush judicial nominees during his first term, filibustering to prevent only 10 from taking the bench.
Thus, a filibuster can effectively nullify a nomination in its entirety, whereas filibustering legislation might affect only a portion of it.
Filibustering originally referred to mercenary warfare intended to destabilize a government.