In one of my more obvious (to me) insights, I correctly predicted that the Democrats would end up sorely regretting their decision to go nuclear in 2013.
Well, here we go again.
Or do we? The most likely measures fall short of an outright kill of the filibuster and are more a scaling-back of it. Of course, as the article linked above argues, that is likely to beget further scalings-back.
One thing that bears pointing out is that weakening the filibuster is less Constitutionally harmful than the continued evolution of an imperial presidency, and the latter becomes more likely if Congress is paralyzed by an unweakend filibuster. The filibuster is mentioned nowhere in the U.S. Constitution; it is merely one of the many “Rules of its Proceedings” the Senate chose to establish for itself per Article I Section 5, and it can just as easily weaken or abolish that provision as it first created and then strengthened it.
Yes, strengthened it. It is far easier to filibuster something today than it has historically been. A filibuster is nowadays mostly a simple matter of paperwork. It used to be the case that Senators opposing the measure had to actually be physically present and take turns speaking in order to talk a bill to death. In fact, returning to this past state of affairs is probably the most likely measure to be enacted.
In a real sense, this time, there is less room to maneuver. Fail to pass a new civil rights bill, and we head into a new Jim Crow era of near-permanent minority rule. So the Democrats’ hand is being forced in a way that it was not in 2013.
But this does not in any way change what Ruth Marcus wrote in the article linked above; a backlash is still likely to come. It is one reason for my general pessimism about the political future of the United States.