You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe

Ideas

How to filibuster

Eat candy! Don’t sit down! Your easy guide to paralyzing the Senate

Last Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky led a 13-hour filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA, shining a spotlight not only on the issue he was discussing—the ­administration’s use of drones—but also on one of the most curious traditions in American government.

The filibuster is one of the most powerful tactics an individual senator can use to influence legislation, bringing work to a halt and creating pressure on the majority to accommodate his or her concerns. These days, it’s usually the mere threat of a filibuster that gets the job done. When the real thing happens, it’s sometimes over an important national issue, sometimes over a more local matter. Ratification of the Treaty of Versailles was filibustered in 1919. The longest one-man filibuster on record was former Senator Strom Thumond’s 24-hour-18-minute filibuster of the Civil Rights Act in 1957. The first televised filibuster, in 1992, was a 15-hour-14-minute marathon by New York Senator Al D’Amato trying to prevent the shutdown of a Smith-Corona typewriter factory in upstate New York.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week