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Princeton Students Protest Anti-Filibuster Frist

Princeton University (search) students dismayed by a Senate push to scale back filibusters have been reading aloud Shakespeare, biographies and the ever-exciting phone book around the clock for more than a week.

The protest is being staged outside the university's Frist Campus Center (search), named for the family of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (search), who is behind the proposed changes.

"We have the Frist building here, so we saw the opportunity to make a symbolic statement and one of substance," said graduate student Juan Melli-Huber, 24.

The protest, which started April 26, has drawn Democratic public officials including Reps. Rush Holt and Frank Pallone. Melli-Huber said the demonstration could last until next Wednesday, when a university protest permit expires.

Frist, a Tennessee Republican and Princeton graduate, has been threatening to change Senate rules to prevent Democrats from using the filibuster (search) to block President Bush's judicial nominees.

The tradition of the filibuster, in which lawmakers try to block legislation by speaking for long periods, goes back to the Senate's early days. Notable filibusters have included recitations of Shakespeare and recipes.

The Princeton readings have included biographies of federal judicial nominees, poetry, documents such as the Constitution, and the Princeton University student phone book.

Frist's politics have riled students at his alma mater before. About 30 demonstrators braved a steady rain in 2003 to protest U.S. AIDS policies outside an alumni gathering where Frist received an award for distinguished service.

Frist's family donated $25 million for the campus center, which was dedicated in 2000. His father founded what is now Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Inc., the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain.