Texas State Senator Wendy Davis: The LeBron James of Filibustering

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Source of Photo of Wendy Davis: texastribune.org

On 25 June 2013, Wendy Davis, a Democrat and a member of the Texas Senate from District 10, became a hero when she filibustered in Austin, Texas, for 11 hours against a bill (Senate Bill 5) that would have closed down 37 out of Texas’ 42 abortion clinics. Ms. Davis needed to filibuster for 13 hours — until midnight — to make sure that the anti-abortion bill did not pass, but Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, a Republican, ruled that part of her discussion was off-topic and stopped her filibuster. Leticia Van De Putte, a Democrat and a member of the Texas Senate from District 26, became a hero by taking up time and running out the clock on voting. A crowd of State Senator Davis supporters also helped by cheering her and State Senator Van De Putte. Esquire had a timetable of important events in the filibuster and the vote that took place after the deadline:

“11:45 p.m.: Time when Senator Leticia Van de Putte asked why the Senate chair did not recognize her motion to adjourn: ‘At what point does a female senator have to raise her hand in order to be recognized over a male senator?’ The crowd of supporters erupted into cheers.

“16 minutes: Time it took for the crowd to stop cheering, at which point the session should technically have ended, as the midnight deadline had passed. A vote was taken after order was restored.

“12:02 a.m.: The time that the Senate timestamp showed the vote was taken on Senate Bill 5, according to Democratic Senator John Whitmire. The Texas Senate website also displayed that the vote was taken after midnight.

“19-10: Final vote count that was recorded — enough to pass the bill.

“12:30 a.m.: Time when Associated Press broke the news that the bill has passed.

“2:04 a.m.: Approximate time the Texas Senate website was edited to show that the vote was taken before midnight.

“2:45 a.m.: Time when Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst reversed his call and announced the bill was dead.”

State Senator Davis wore a back brace during the filibuster so that she would not be forced to lean on anything due to fatigue. After the bill was stopped, she told supporters, “Today was democracy in action. You all are the voices we were speaking for from the floor.” By the way, at 5:10 p.m., someone altered State Senator Davis’ Wikipedia page to make it state that she is “the LeBron James of Filibustering.” And at 7:40 p.m., President Barack Obama tweeted, “Something special is happening in Austin tonight.”

Almost certainly, Texas governor Rick Perry will get the bill passed later, so did the filibuster really accomplish anything? Yes. Amanda Marcotte of Slate has a list of things that the filibuster accomplished, including this one:

“1) National attention for a story Republicans hoped would be buried. The whole point of putting the abortion bill in the special session was so that Republicans in the state, particularly the ambitious Dewhurst, could pander to the religious right without catching too much heat from the national media, or the libertarian branch of Texas Republicans who think all this abortion stuff is a waste of time. Any hopes they could slip this one in under the radar are gone.”

For Further Information: “Texas Abortion Bill Filibustered By State Senator Wendy Davis Is Dead.” Huffington Post. 26 June 2013

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/texas-abortion-bill_n_3501005.html

For Further Information: Jennings Brown, “Wendy Davis’ Filibuster by the Numbers.” Esquire. 26 June 2013

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/wendy-davis-filibuster-by-the-numbers-062613

For Further Information: Amanda Marcotte, “Texas Abortion Bill Will Pass, So What Did Wendy Davis Actually Accomplish?” Slate. 27 June 2013

http://tinyurl.com/nshg6mw

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