How would a filibuster from a wheelchair work, exactly?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2015/03/30 14:00 +00:00, original URI:

Politics has never been an aspiration of mine.

Now I am only mentioning this in passing, but I have always been at least theoretically interested in the nuances of things like U.S. Senatorial filibuster.

How can one watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington or that episode of The West Wing called The Stackhouse Filibuster without getting caught up in the idealism of trying to fight the good fight once in awhile?

Of course my tendencies toward being a complete and utter cynic cure me of such notions pretty quickly, but the majesty of a lone senator holding the floor as long as he or she keeps the floor float around in my head when I read about the filibuster on Wikipedia:

When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and realized I might one day be wheelchair bound, curiosity about how this might affect a Senator's ability to be involved in a filibuster popped up from time to time.

The three senators I knew of who were in wheelchairs (Max Cleland from Georgia, John Porter East from North Carolina, and Bob Kerrey from Nebraska) didn't help since none of them were ever as far as I could tell involved in a filibuster while they were in office.

And none of the senators serving in DC for the various states I have lived in over the years to whom I put the question (most recently Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell for Washington state, but even others previously) ever provided a possible answer, even when trying to research the issue.

Except for one time when someone suggested that it might be like jury nullification, where since nobody wants people doing it that it makes no sense to encourage anyone to do it....

I am reminded of my visit to Chilkur Balaji Temple aka the Visa Temple described in a blog post from 2010 ( and wondering if such a majestic solution could be found.

The cynic in me doubts it. We Americans lack that kind of majesty. Which is why I would make a lousy idealist....

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