Gabriel Maliha is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying criminology.
The recent consideration by the Senate of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and other important priorities by the new administration has brought to the fore a renewed debate about the Senate filibuster. The procedure was originally conceived as an opportunity for the upper chamber and its members to entertain open and unlimited debate on a particular bill or nominee to convince colleagues of the validity of a particular view. Over the years, it has become a parliamentary obstructive device used by minorities in the Senate to prevent votes and ultimately decisions on specific business before the chamber. 
The filibuster was not part of the original 1789 Senate rules but became so shortly thereafter in 1806. Former Vice President Aaron Burr suggested eliminating limits on debate as would be worthy of a “great deliberative body” and the Senate obliged.  The dilatory process was used sparingly until a Democratic minority tried to block a banking bill in 1841. The sponsors threatened but failed to eliminate the filibuster. In 1917, a Republican minority blocked a bill supported by President Wilson to arm merchant marine vessels during WWI. The Senate, under popular pressure, created rule 22, the cloture motion, which allows ending debates if 2/3 of Senators present and voting concur.  The 1960’s witnessed a number of highly charged filibusters by Senate Democrats, including attempts to block the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In 1975, the Senate lowered cloture requirements to 3/5 of Senate membership. [4,5]