filibuster

(redirected from filibusters)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal.

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).
..... Click the link for more information.
 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).
..... Click the link for more information.
 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.
..... Click the link for more information.
, 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).
..... Click the link for more information.
 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
founding, senators rediscovered Cato's practice of killing a bill by killing time, and the Senate filibuster was bom.
"This will be the first and last partisan filibuster of the supreme court," Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor, accusing Democrats of trying to inflict political damage on Trump and to keep more conservatives from joining the high court.
By the time the hearings were over, it was clear that Democrats were prepared to launch a filibuster to try to prevent Gorsuch's confirmation.
Four more Democratic senators added their support to a growing effort to block a confirmation vote through the use of a procedural hurdle called a filibuster that requires 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to allow a confirmation vote requiring a simple majority.
In recent days, a growing number of GOP lawmakers, who now hold majorities in both the House and the Senate, have begun pressuring now-Majority Leader McConnell to invoke the "nuclear option" and fully eliminate the filibuster.
But Figure 1 also shows that a pro-reform majority is not dependent on a favorable ruling from the Presiding Officer to reform the filibuster. As shown on the right side of Figure 1, if the Presiding Officer rules against Pro's first point of order, and if Con filibusters Pro's appeal of the denial, then Pro can raise a second point of order (or "secondary appeal") that debate on the Presiding Officer's ruling is not permitted (or subject to some specified limit).
Darrell West of the Brookings Institution says the constant use of filibusters has essentially paralyzed Congress because a supermajority was required to get anything done.
I have no earthly idea how the French term "flibustier," meaning pirate or buccaneer, morphed into "filibuster." Nor do I know how filibuster, which originally referred to American military adventurers in the mid-19th century who worked to provoke the overthrow of Latin American governments, came to mean the use of extreme tactics to delay or prevent legislative actions--but it did.
First, it is important to note that, in spite of criticism from some quarters, the 52-48 vote to change the filibuster rules was not unconstitutional in the sense of violating some clear power or procedure laid out by the Founding Fathers.
Wendy Davis' filibuster against abortion legislation last month and the very public debate that trailed into a second special legislative session boosted donations to the Fort Worth Democrat and to a number of other political organizations during the last days of June.
Between 1917 and 1960 filibusters were rare and by common assent reserved for extremely important measures.
Nearly eighty years later, the New York Times defended filibusters