The Untold Story of the State Filibuster: The History and Potential of a Neglected Parliamentary Device – Note by Kyle Grossman

From Volume 88, Number 2 (January 2015)

On June 25, 2013, as Texas State Senator Wendy Davis prepared to launch her now-famous filibuster, the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder invalidated Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (“VRA”), a crucial part of one of the most successful civil rights statutes ever enacted. This Note takes these two seemingly unrelated events as its starting and ending points. While the federal filibuster is a familiar procedural device, Davis’s effort shone a light on its underexamined state equivalent. The invalidation of Section 4 of the VRA also turned attention to the states, this time in the form of alarm bells warning of the need for state-level remedial measures to protect voting rights. This Note links those events together by recovering the history of the state filibuster to reveal how it may—and I argue, should—be used to mitigate the impact of Shelby County.



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