Democrats are promising to filibuster Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination Thursday, as the Senate readies to bring itto a vote.
The term filibuster — from a Dutch word meaning “pirate” — is an obstructivetactic used by lawmakers to delay or obstruct avote. In the case of the Democrats, they will use the Senate floor as a platform to drive their point home that a vote on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee isn’t fair after Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama’s pick last year.
The most common way to filibuster? Talk it out. In the filibuster’s 200-year history, senators have read from telephone books, recipe cards and even deconstructed the Constitution to hold the floor and delay a vote.
America’s most memorable filibuster was a fictional one.
Jimmy Stewart famously collapsed from exhaustion after taking an epic stand on the Senate floor in the film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” It’s tough to compete with the big screen, but several senators have managed to grab headlines for their dramatic flair on Capitol Hill.
Most recently Republican Sen. Rand Paul kept the clock running for 12 hours and 52 minutes during his 2013 filibuster of Obama CIA nominee John Brennan. It was a big deal because talking filibusters aren’t too common these days — senators can just move to filibuster without actually carrying on for hours. Ending a filibuster — called “cloture” — requires a two-thirds vote by the Senate.
Talking may be out of fashion these days, but that wasn’t always the case. Here are the 11 longest filibusters in Senate history:
11. Sen.Bernie Sanders’ filibuster on Bush-era tax cuts in 2010 went onfor eight hours and 37 minutes — though Vermont’s favorite senator was applauded for this move, it wasn’t a true filibuster as the Senate was in a quiet period and he didn’t hold up any official business.
10. Sen.Harry Reid’s filibusteron a judicial appointee in 2003 lasted eight hours and 39 minutes.
9. Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster over the use of drones against Americans in 2013 went on for 12 hours and 52 minutes.
7. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato’s filibuster against a tax bill in 1992 went on for 15 hours and 14 minutes.
6. Sen. Huey Long’s filibuster on the Industrial Recover Bill in 1935 lasted 15 hours and 30 minutes.
5. Sen. William Proxmire’s filibuster on the Debt Expansion Bill in 1981 was 16 hours and 12 minutes.
4. Sen. Robert La Follette Sr.’s filibuster on the Currency Bill in 1908 was 18 hours and 23 minutes.
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3. Sen. Wayne Morse’s flilbuster on a 1953 oil bill went for 22 hours and 26 minutes.
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2. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato’s filibuster of a 1986 military bill lasted 23 hours and 30 minutes.
1. Sen. Strom Thurmond’s filibuster on the Civil Rights Bill of 1957 was 24 hours and 18 minutes.