With the Supreme Court leak that took place this week, Democrats are howling again for the Senate to scrap the legislative filibuster to make way for a purely partisan federal “abortion rights” law. Even the fundraising frenzy surrounding the possibility that Roe v. Wade is on the way out has not been enough to sway Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) from their commitment to preserving the minority-rights rule.
Both moderate Democratic senators have said they have no intention to vote for ending the filibuster in the upper chamber following the shockwaves from the leak showing Roe could be soon overturned.
Without the agreement of both Manchin and Sinema, the Democrats have no shot at lifting the Senate rule requiring the votes of at least 60 of the 100 senators to end discussion on a bill and advance ordinary legislation to a final simple majority vote.
Manchin told reporters on Tuesday that the filibuster rule is “a protection of democracy.”
Sinema posted a tweet on Tuesday that said she is committed to “protections in the Senate safeguarding against the erosion of women’s access to health care.” In saying that while affirming that she would vote for a federal abortion rights bill, she acknowledged that trashing the filibuster now would not serve her party when it ends up back in the minority.
The filibuster rule in the Senate has changed through the years but has always been designed to allow some minority group of senators to delay, perhaps indefinitely, a bare majority from passing legislation without at least considering some compromise in order to attract some minority party votes.
As the minority party in the Senate in recent years, the Republicans have used the filibuster to derail parts of the Democratic agenda, including Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion Build Back Better spending bill.
The filibuster has also blocked Democrats from seriously pursuing a strategy of packing the Supreme Court by adding to the number of Justices on the court through legislation. Those calls have been renewed this week in light of the leaked draft opinion. Like a pro-abortion federal bill, such a move would require ending the Senate filibuster.
The filibuster appears to be on safe ground for at least the time being, thanks to two Democratic senators who understand that the shoe always winds up on the other foot at some point.