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Hagel Filibuster Flouts the Constitution, Common Cause Says


By: Common Cause

Feb. 14, 2013 - The Senate's refusal to close out debate and bring the nomination of Defense Secretary-nominee Chuck Hagel to a final vote is a poke in the eye to the Constitution and the best traditions of the Senate, Common Cause said today.

"Senators have every right to oppose Sen. Hagel's nomination and to fully air their reasons for doing so. But there is no justification -- none at all -- for denying him a vote," said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. "His nomination was thoroughly reviewed by the Senate Armed Services Committee and debated for two days on the Senate floor; to borrow a phrase from the President's State of the Union address, he deserves a vote."

Edgar added that in mounting a filibuster, Sen. Hagel's opponents "have helped make the case for repeal of the Senate's filibuster rule and its 60-vote requirement for ending debate. The Constitution requires only a simple majority, 51 votes, for confirmation of Cabinet members; the Senate rule replaces that with a 60 vote requirement, effectively giving control to the minority. That's a travesty."

Common Cause has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to have the filibuster rule declared unconstitutional. The case is on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia following a lower court's ruling in December that Common Cause and other plaintiffs, including four members of the House of Representatives, lack legal standing to pursue it.

"We remain confident that we will prevail and the 60-vote requirement will be ruled unconstitutional in a trial on the merits," Edgar said. "I hope today's proceedings will persuade senators who know we're right to join in the suit as plaintiffs."

Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest, and accountable government that works for the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard. www.commoncause.org


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