State Sen. Wendy Davis’ multihour filibuster over abortion measures pending before the Legislature attracted an unprecedented level of attention. Ultimately, the filibuster and the fever accompanying it reveal, among other things, a broken and inadequate system of public participation that needs substantial repairs.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst decried the Occupy Wall Street tactics of an “unruly mob” in announcing that the Legislature did not pass the abortion measures on time, in part because of protesters’ noise engulfing the chamber. Sadly, he and the Legislature gave the public little other choice. Their options for participating in their democracy were very limited.
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Schooler teaches public policy mediation at Southern Methodist University and is a Fellow at the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution at the University of Texas School of Law.