Princeton Students Hold 384-Hour "Filibuster Protest"

Revolution #3, May 22, 2005, posted at

On May 12, students at Princeton University concluded a 384-hour protest against the "nuclear option"—the elimination of the Senate filibuster being pushed by Senate leader Bill Frist (a member of Princeton's class of 1974) and other Republicans. Taking the form of non-stop speak-outs (or "filibustering"), the protest began on April... and spread to other campuses.

The Princeton students held the mock filibuster for over 350 hours in front of the Frist Campus Center, a campus building funded by Frist and his family—and then carried out the last... hours of the protest in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., joined by students from Georgetown, Howard, Trinity, George Washington, and American Universities.

Filibusters are a way that small groups of legislators have historically blocked laws that they strongly opposed. Now, a huge fight is brewing over the approval of new judges appointed by Bush. The Republicans are pushing to do away with the filibuster so that any ultra-reactionary monster in robes can get quickly approved without real challenges. This is the opening skirmish of an even bigger fight over the next Supreme Court nominees. Ultimately, this is a fight over what the whole legal framework of the United States will be—and it will have a deep impact on culture and politics in this society.

In a press release on the third day of the filibuster protest, the Princeton students said: "Speakers have continued overnight, despite rain, drunken heckling, and attempts by campus security and Princeton borough police to shut down the protest.

"Protesters have read from biographies of the judicial nominees, poetry (Robert Burns), parts of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, Princeton's `Rights Rules and Responsibilities' policy, the Princeton University student phonebook through middle of the Bs, several articles and editorials on `Justice Sunday,' some environmental quality articles, children's books, as well as some lighter moments of ad-libbing."

Among the participants in the filibuster protest were various politicians and professors (including Nobel Prize recipients). The students set up a "live blog" of the protest as well as a webcam with a live video stream of people speaking, reading, rapping, and doing their own forms of filibustering. The protest was covered by CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times , the Guardian of London , the AP news wire, and other media.

Students at campuses across the country have followed the example of the Princeton students—including Harvard, Wellesley, Cornell, Dickinson, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, Tufts, Yale, Carleton, Howard, U.C. Berkeley, and Stanford. Princeton students say that they plan to continue the protest—starting on May 14, they will be out in front of the Frist Campus Center again for a "cellular filibuster"—urging people to call senators to oppose the elimination of the filibuster. Information about the filibuster protest by Princeton students and others is available online at