The Waning and Stability of the Filibuster
The filibuster has been a core feature of Senate decision-making for over a century. During the past two decades, however, the Senate has narrowed the filibuster’s scope by removing dilatory tactics for judicial appointments. Meanwhile, it has largely preserved the filibuster for lawmaking. This discrepancy suggests that the filibuster’s appeal likely varies across legislative activities. We show that the modern Senate’s coexistence of supermajoritarian lawmaking and majoritarian appointments is consistent with basic differences between canonical models of legislative lawmaking and judicial appointment under broad conditions. In contrast, the opposite discrepancy cannot arise without other substantial differences. High legislator polarization, as witnessed during the elimination of the appointment filibuster, expands the conditions where majoritarian appointments coincide with supermajoritarian lawmaking.