You must stand.
No bathroom breaks.
You cannot stop talking, or give up the floor.
These are the rules for a filibuster.
A filibuster is a form of protest to stall the passage of a bill. Typically, this only happens as a last resort to show protest against an unjust law or bill that is to be passed. This is often used for publicity to raise awareness, or stop controversial laws from being passed. Examples of bills that were filibustered are things like the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Gun Violence, and even the Civil Rights Act.
But what are the records for these actions? How long have people stood up and protested a government that tried to go against their wishes? And more importantly, did they succeed or did they fail?
14 Hours, 50 Minutes: Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy
Senator Murphy took to the podium in June 2016 in the aftermath of the Orlando shootings. He was speaking to try to force government action on gun violence, since years have passed with no movement. The senator is from Connecticut, the home of the Sandy Hook School shooting in 2012.
He “succeeded”, as the senate said that they would put gun control measures to a vote, but the bills failed to reach the 60 vote threshold and were put down.
15 Hours, 14 Minutes: New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato
In an attempt to save a typewriter factory in 1992, the Senator gained inspiration from the classic film Mr Smith Goes to Washington, but began what was known as a “gentleman’s filibuster”, starting after dinner time, and going all night into the morning, so as not to disturb other government business. He spoke and sang, but gave up on his filibuster midday on October 6th, and the filibuster failed. However, the Senator did receive media attention, and was able to win reelection by a small margin, so he seems to have won.
21 Hours, 18 Minutes: Texas Senator Ted Cruz
Senator Ted Cruz, a rising star of the Republican Party in 2013, protested the Affordable Care Act. He famously read bedtime stories to his daughters as shown below:
In the end, Senator Cruz’s filibuster failed, and the Affordable Care Act was passed.
24 Hours, 18 Minutes: South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond
Senator Thurmond holds the record in the US Senate for the longest filibuster, yet it is not a positive record. In 1957, Senator Thurmond protested the Civil Rights Act of 1957, an act that was eventually passed which ensured voting rights for African-Americans. His filibuster ultimately failed, and the Civil Rights Act of 1957 was even expanded in 1964, which Senator Thurmond also opposed.
57 Hours: Canada’s NDP
The Canadian New Democratic Party (NDP) was responsible for a 57 hour marathon filibuster protesting a Conservative-backed bill to force Canadian Postal workers back to work during a postal strike in 2011. The filibuster failed, as 70% of the Canadian public supported the bill, and the filibuster only served to anger the public for wasting government resources.
192 Hours: South Korea’s Minjoo Party
The record for the longest filibuster ever lies with the South Korean National Assembly, and the Minjoo Party. The Minjoo party is the main opposition party of the governing Saenuri Party, which is headed by current president Park Geun-hye. The Saenuri Party sought an expansion of anti-terror legislation that would grant the government sweeping powers, collecting information from private communications and financial transactions to root out potential terror risks. A total of 38 members of the National Assembly took part, with speeches ranging from five hours to over 13 hours long! The read out academic articles, articles found on the Internet, and even read the comments on the articles. The filibuster began on February 23rd, and was planned to extend until March 10th, when the National Assembly would adjourn the session. However, public opinion mounted against them, and on March 1st, the filibuster ended. Public opinion had turned against them because the filibuster forced other bills to be pushed back, including a bill about North Korean human rights.
Image via: Wikipedia