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Constitution

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

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Full-Text Articles in Law

The Unconstitutionality Of The Filibuster, Josh Chafetz May 2011

The Unconstitutionality Of The Filibuster, Josh Chafetz

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This Article, written for the Connecticut Law Review's 2010 "Is Our Constitutional Order Broken?" symposium, argues that the filibuster, as currently practiced, is unconstitutional.

After a brief introduction in Part I, Part II describes the current operation of the filibuster. Although the filibuster is often discussed in terms of "unlimited debate," this Part argues that its current operation is best understood in terms of a sixty-vote requirement to pass most bills and other measures through the Senate.

Part III presents a structural argument that this supermajority requirement for most Senate business is unconstitutional. This Part argues that the words ...


Impeachment And Assassination, Josh Chafetz Dec 2010

Impeachment And Assassination, Josh Chafetz

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In 1998, the conservative provocateur Ann Coulter made waves when she wrote that President Clinton should be either impeached or assassinated. Coulter was roundly - and rightly - condemned for suggesting that the murder of the President might be justified, but her conceptual linking of presidential impeachment and assassination was not entirely unfounded. Indeed, Benjamin Franklin had made the same linkage over two hundred years earlier, when he noted at the Constitutional Convention that, historically, the removal of “obnoxious” chief executives had been accomplished by assassination. Franklin suggested that a proceduralized mechanism for removal - impeachment - would be preferable.

This Article for the ...


Is The Filibuster Constitutional?, Josh Chafetz, Michael J. Gerhardt Apr 2010

Is The Filibuster Constitutional?, Josh Chafetz, Michael J. Gerhardt

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

With the help of the President, Democrats in Congress were able to pass historic healthcare-reform legislation in spite of - and thanks to - the significant structural obstacles presented by the Senate’s arcane parliamentary rules. After the passage of the bill, the current political climate appears to require sixty votes for the passage of any major legislation, a practice which many argue is unsustainable.

In this Debate, Professors Josh Chafetz and Michael Gerhardt debate the constitutionality of the Senate’s cloture rules by looking to the history of those rules in the United States and elsewhere. Professor Chafetz argues that the ...


Executive Branch Contempt Of Congress, Josh Chafetz Jul 2009

Executive Branch Contempt Of Congress, Josh Chafetz

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

After former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten refused to comply with subpoenas issued by a congressional committee investigating the firing of a number of United States Attorneys, the House of Representatives voted in 2008 to hold them in contempt. The House then chose a curious method of enforcing its contempt citation: it filed a federal lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that Miers and Bolten were in contempt of Congress and an injunction ordering them to comply with the subpoenas. The district court ruled for the House, although that ruling was subsequently stayed ...