Barack Obama on The Filibuster

Last Updated : Mar 07, 2011


As a Senator, in 2005 Barack Obama spoke against the use of the "nuclear option" to end the filibuster and stated that the Senate needed to rise above an "ends justifies the means" view of thinking. He voiced support for the filibuster rules to remain in place. Also in 2005, Senator Obama noted that he was not fond of the filibuster as it was used in attempts to keep rights away from African Americans.

In 2006, Senator Obama voted in favor of filibustering Justice Samuel Alito but voice hesitance to do so and noted that the filibuster was just a procedural tactic and what liberals truly needed to get their people onto the courts was to win elections.

In early 2010, President Obama drew criticism by comparing the use of the filibuster in 2009 to two decades of obstruction. It was later noted that the two decades he was citing had different filibuster rules and actual number of filibusters in 2009 was less than recent years.

In 2010, President Obama appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and spoke about the use of the filibuster by Republicans to stop legislation from proceeding. He called for the reform or ending of the filibuster noting that the measure was not a right included in the Constitution. (Note that the Constitution gives the Senate the right to draft their own rules. These rules include the filibuster.) In a blogger's round table meeting around the same time as the daily show appearance, President Obama stated that the filibuster had done profound damage to the country and should be reformed.


Comments on the Nuclear Option

In April of 2005, Senator Obama spoke on the Senate floor about the possibility of ending the filibuster through the nuclear option. The complete text is shown here with video highlights below.



Purpose of the Filibuster

In April of 2005, Senator Obama stated that he was not a fan of the filibuster as it has typically been used to keep voting and other rights away from African Americans.


Filibuster of Justice Samuel Alito

In January of 2006, Senator Obama spoke with George Stephanopoulis about a possible filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. In the end, Senator Obama voted in against cloture for the vote on Justice Alito (in support of the filibuster).


20 Years of Obstruction

In February of 2010, President Obama noted the increased use of the filibuster in his first year in office (2009) by stating the following:

This statement led to a small amount of controversy after CNN ran a fact check declaring those statements to be true. In reality, there were a number of rule changes in the Senate that greatly increased the use of the filibuster after the 1960's. Although the statement in factual correct, the conclusion drawn from it by the comparison of the amount of cloture votes over those two time periods is misleading at best. As far as actual number of cloture votes in the Senate, there was an increase in cloture votes in 2007. In 2009 (the year President Obama cited), there was the same number of cloture votes as 2002.


The Daily Show Appearance

In October of 2010, President Obama appeared on The Daily Show and spoke about the need to reform the filibuster.


Blogger's Roundtable

In October of 2010, President Obama participated in a blogger's round table for a number of left wing bloggers. When asked about the filibuster



Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation

This representative has not been identified as sponsoring or cosponsoring significant legislation related to this title.


[1] Website: DailyKOS Article: Bloggers roundtable with President Obama Author: NA Accessed on: 03/04/2011

[2] Website: DailyKos Article: President Obama endorses filibuster reform Author: Chris Bowers Accessed on: 03/04/2011

[3] Website: Thomas - Congressional Record System Article: S 3511 - S 3512 Author: NA Accessed on: 03/04/2011

[4] Website: Politifact Article: Obama criticized Supreme Court filibuster of Alito even as he joined it Author: NA Accessed on: 03/04/2011

[5] Website: USA Today / AP Article: Sen. Obama criticizes filibuster tactic Author: AP Accessed on: 03/04/2011

[6] Website: Article: Obama not one of the Gang Author: NA Accessed on: 03/06/2011

[7] Website: Article: CNN Fact Check: Senate cloture votes Author: Jim Dexter Accessed on: 03/07/2011

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