A federal Judge dismissed a lawsuit Friday that claimed the Senate filibuster is unconstitutional because it is inconsistent with majority rule.
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan threw out the case, saying a judicial ruling on a Senate rule would “offend” the separation of powers.
“Nowhere does the Constitution contain express requirements regarding the proper length of, or method for, the Senate to debate proposed legislation,” the judge said in his ruling.
He also claimed that the plaintiffs — four Democratic congressmen, the advocacy group Common Cause and three people facing deportation — couldn’t demonstrate that they had been harmed by the rule.
“It is merely speculative that plaintiffs’ alleged injury would be redressed by a favorable decision,” the judge said.
The four congressmen who brought forward the lawsuit argued that their votes are diminished on key legislation favored by a simple majority when the Senate requires a supermajority to pass most things.
The DREAM Act and DISCLOSE Act were cited as examples — both of which stalled in the Senate in 2010 when Democrats held majorities in both chambers.
The four Democratic congressmen filing the suit were Keith Ellison (Minn.), Henry Johnson (Ga.), Mike Michaud (Maine) and John Lewis (Ga.).
The long-shot suit was expected to fail. But senators had broached the proposition of court action in the past. In 2003, when Democrats used the filibuster to hold up President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees, then-Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) briefly entertained the idea of changing the rule through the courts.
“It certainly could be taken to court,” he said at the time.