The Wendy Davis Filibuster: A Summertime “Texas Spring,” or a “Breakdown in Decorum and Decency”?

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June 27, 2013; Los Angeles Times


Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis held the floor of the legislature, reading tales of the experiences of women and abortions in an exhausting 13-hour filibuster. It may have only temporarily killed SB5, the bill outlawing abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation, but it served as an attractor for hundreds of supporters who showed up, packing the galleries to make their voices heard.

On Twitter, Davis supporters used the hashtag #StandWithWendy to keep up a steady commentary. A live stream on the Internet attracted 200,000 viewers who tuned into the last section of Davis’s filibuster, and 400 protesters in the visitors’ balcony chanted loudly to prevent legislators from acting on the bill before the session ended at midnight.

“I think it was the Texas Spring,” commented Terri Burke, of the Texas ACLU. “I think the ground shifted in Texas last night…it’s not just about abortion.” She added, “In Texas, this right-wing extremism has dominated our politics, and finally those in the middle, and those who are left-leaning, have found their voice. They really finally realized there were more of them than they thought there were.”

Here is a video of one of the attempts to stop Ms. Davis for a violation of filibuster rules:

Governor Perry has already declared that he will call a special session on July 1st to re-raise the issue and he has called the supported filibuster a “breakdown in decorum and decency.” NPQ would love comments from the readership on this.—Ruth McCambridge

  • Kevin

    I was a former resident of Texas and tuned into the live stream for the last 3 hours which was right around the last point of order against Sen. Wendy Davis. I was screaming at my little computer screen long before the gallery erupted. It was clear to me that the majority didn’t follow procedure in what is already one of the most set of strict filibuster rules in the country. That is what pushed me to scream. The presiding officer seemed confused on every motion. I was afraid I was the only one noticing his incompetence as the gallery sat fairly quiet. It was his densness and disrespect of the Senator who made the last point of inquiry that broke decorum. The gallery was merely responding to a breakdown of order and decorum from the presiding officer.

    I sincerely hope that the entire thing jars a dormant population. The state may be blood red and generally evangelical, but one thing you don’t do in Texas is disrespect a lady. The GOP seemed to forget themselves in their pure ambition.


    The filibuster is the right of any legislator and I support her right to use it. However it does not serve any legislature to have a mob of noisy supporters that prevent the legislature from doing the business that the people of Texas elected them to do. I hope the governor reconvenes the legislatire so that the will of the people wil be done. The people of Texas are better than this display of rudeness.

  • Kevin

    Gov. Perry has already ordered an emergency session of congress for this bill. It should be noted that the reason that the GOP is trying to pass this in “emergency” sessions is because they didn’t have the votes during the regular session. The Majority changed the rules for these sessions so that they could pass what would otherwise not be deemed the Will of the People. Everything about the proceedings screamed abuse of power and over reach. Regardless of your position on the bill, if the process is not viewed as legitimate, neither is the bill.