The Slatest

Democratic Senator Wants to Restore the Filibuster When Democrats Return to Power. Huh.

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey.

Ryan McBride/AFP/Getty Images

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey said something completely ludicrous on Monday and has since been rightly mocked by every sentient being in the universe who has noticed.* Let’s join in!

Markey was speaking about the recently nuked filibuster on Supreme Court nominations. He fell into the trap minority members fall in when making temporarily convenient arguments about the moral superiority of 60-vote thresholds. Would Democrats, MSNBC’s Katy Tur asked, restore this exalted, divinely ordained SCOTUS filibuster when they recaptured control of the chamber?


Uhh… yes?… yes!, a cornered Markey replied.

“When the Democrats return to the majority and capture the presidency, which we will—that day is going to arrive—we will restore the 60-vote margin,” he said.


Reinstating an artificial barrier against their own ability to act, after the Republicans already did the dirty work for them of removing the barrier, would be among the most Democrat-y moves in American history. Let’s hope that this was just a momentary lack of political dexterity from Sen. Markey and not an official statement of strategy, because it is not any kind of strategy. If you contort yourself into spinal injury, you could argue that Democrats—in this distant hypothetical scenario where they ever again control multiple branches of government—could reinstate the SCOTUS filibuster and then, if Republicans don’t play along, they could just nuke it again. But that would be the silliest thing ever!

The SCOTUS filibuster is gone. Some Senate Republicans made noises, too, about restoring the filibuster on executive and sub-SCOTUS judicial nominees after Democrats nuked it in 2013. They never did that, because it would have been a dumb form of unilateral disarmanent.

Markey, it should be noted, was not speaking for the entire Senate Democratic caucus, and pledging to reinstate rules in order to punch themselves in the face for no reason is not the official Senate Democratic caucus’ position.

Correction, 1:17 p.m.: Due to an editing error, this post originally misidentified Ed Markey as a Senator from Oregon.