The Frist Filibuster Hits Washington

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Princeton's Frist Filibuster hit the road early this morning when, after finishing an on-campus political protest that lasted more than 300 consecutive hours, 45 sleep-deprived students piled onto a bus at 4:30 am to take their campaign to Washington. The students oppose Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's bid to change Senate rules to prohibit Democratic filibusters against judicial nominees, the so-called "nuclear option" that may soon come up for a Senate vote.

The Princeton group, called Filibuster for Democracy, started its two-week, nonstop filibuster on April 26, reading everything from political speeches and poems to phone books and the digits of Pi. They stood in front of the Frist Campus Center, so named after the Senator's family pledged $25 million to his alma mater. As word of the effort spread, hundreds of students joined in—despite looming exams—and a number of parallel protests started up at other schools, including Harvard, Howard, the University of California at Berkeley, and Yale.

Upon arriving in Washington, the Princeton protesters were joined by students from area universities, and set up a filibuster platform in front of the Capital Reflecting Pool. A team of bloggers on site posted news of the protest at and used a Webcam to project live images.

In addition to student speakers and constitutional scholars, Congressman Rush Holt and Senator Frank Lautenberg spoke at the protest, and Senator Jon Corzine was scheduled to speak Thursday. The students plan to return to Princeton Thursday evening.

Now that they've drawn national attention, would the students support a Capital Hill deal to avert the expected vote? No. "Any sort of compromise that undermines the filibuster isn't really a compromise," says Jason Vagliano, a graduating Princeton senior and a registered Independent. "It's abolishing a 200-year-old protection of the minority voice in Congress."