U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District, announced he has signed on as a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed this week by Common Cause alleging that habitual use of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate is unconstitutional. (Read his press release here.)
It's a position State Sen. Cynthia Dill, the leading progressive in the race for the U.S. Senate, has outlined in numerous public forums and debates over the course of her campaign.
"It's devolved into a situation where you have a tyranny of the minority," Dill said. "If a duly-elected majority of the Senate wants to act, it should be able to act. But it can't when a handful of senators use parliamentary tricks to hold up important issues such as the Buffett Rule or the proper funding of Veterans Homes.
"As a U.S. senator, I will huddle with Reps. Michaud and Pingree to find the best way to keep parliamentary procedures from becoming overly politicized and obstructionist of the people's business. I am happy Rep. Michaud has joined this important lawsuit."
A filibuster used to be an unending floor speech that prevented action, and rarely used. Now, the mere threat of a filibuster on a regular basis grinds all Senate business to a halt unless 60 votes are cast to end the filibuster and proceed with the business of the people.
The lawsuit is filed in federal court by Common Cause, a government accountability group where Dill served as director of the Digital Democracy Project in 2010-11.