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Senate Democrats Go Nuclear

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  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    The Senate just passed historic filibuster reform by a vote of 52-48. Now Republicans will be unable to filibuster federal judicial nominees except for Supreme Court nominations.

    This is a huge moment in the history of the Senate. The Republicans have used their minority in the Senate's to thwart the will of the majority on nearly everything under the sun and they will no longer be able to do so. While the Republicans are crying foul, I ask if anyone actually thinks that the Republicans would not have done the same exact thing when they find themselves in the majority again. I applaud the Democrats for finally growing a backbone and showing the Republicans they are done with their slash and burn tactics.

    The President has a constitutional obligation to submit nominations for vacant federal judgeships and the Senate has a constitutional obligation to give advice and consent on these nominations. A blanket filibuster of all federal judge nominations because you are throwing a temper tantrum that you aren't in the majority is not a valid reason to throw our federal court system into disarray.

    What does everyone think of the Senate Democrats finally standing up and pushing back against Republican obstructionism in the Senate?
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    I agree. I just heard that half of all filibustered judicial nominations in the history of the United States have occurred during the Obama administration. They are not blocking people because they are not qualified. They are blocking them because they oppose, by their own stated policies, everything that Obama does. They have been ruthless in this pursuit.

    Senator McConnell says that Reid will regret the day. Ha!
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    I understand the Senate leader's frustration with the opposition in regards to them being a huge roadblock in the approval of judicial appointments and others, but ,remember ,the Democrats won't be in power forever, and when the GOP either wins the Senate or the Whitehouse, the shoe might seem a bit tight when they have to wear the title of the minority power, so the way it now stands, it now becomes a 1 vote majority to confirm a candidate's approval for either a cabinet post or a Federal Judicial position. I just hope that this does not pave the way down a very slippery slope of stacking the Judiciary in favor of the Majority Political Party.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    johnnycee Wrote: I understand the Senate leader's frustration with the opposition in regards to them being a huge roadblock in the approval of judicial appointments and others, but ,remember ,the Democrats won't be in power forever, and when the GOP either wins the Senate or the Whitehouse, the shoe might seem a bit tight when they have to wear the title of the minority power, so the way it now stands, it now becomes a 1 vote majority to confirm a candidate's approval for either a cabinet post or a Federal Judicial position. I just hope that this does not pave the way down a very slippery slope of stacking the Judiciary in favor of the Majority Political Party.
    That is how our courts have always worked since our nations inception. It's not a slippery slope at all, but rather how our constitutional democracy was set up in the first place. Our President's have always appointed like minded people to serve as judges for over 200 years, so this is not new. The Republicans will undoubtedly do the same thing when and if they win the Presidency and Senate back and they would have every right to do so. We can't paralyze our federal judiciary because the minority party is throwing a temper tantrum. That's not how things are supposed to work. If they want their judges, then they need to win Presidential elections.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    jared --

    You make an important point. The NORM has always been that judicial nominations are approved by a majority vote. Only in exceptional circumstances have nominations been blocked.

    So now we go back to the norm. That's good...whether the Democrats or the Republicans are in power. Majority rules...not the Minority.
  • Center Left Democrat
    Democrat
    Flagstaff, AZ
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    jared:


    Thanks for the update. I just received the news from Senator Jeff Merkley a few minutes ago, which reaffirms the points that I made in "you shall reap what you sow" earlier today.

    I agree with Schmidt's comments about the filibustering of judicial nominations, but haven't verified them yet.

    I had written my very own Senator John McCain about this very topic recently. His take, of course, was much different than the one expressed by Schmidt:

    Judicial nominees must go through a rigorous process in order to be confirmed as a federal judge. Once the President has nominated a candidate, they first must undergo hearings conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee then analyzes the candidate’s qualifications and findings from the hearings, and then can decide whether or not to give a favorable report to recommend the nominee to the United States Senate. If the committee decides to recommend the candidate, the full Senate debates and votes on the candidate, and this vote will determine if the nominee is confirmed as a federal judge.

    As you may know, the United States is currently facing a judicial crisis, with nearly one in ten federal judgeships vacant. While some suggest that the confirmations have slowed under President Obama and the current Congress, statistically Congress is confirming at the same rate as under the first terms of our three previous presidents. According to a recent study by the Brookings Institute, President Obama’s nominees have faced a shorter amount of time between nomination and confirmation than those of the three previous presidents. At present, however, nearly 60% of these open positions have no nominees, and cannot be filled until nominations are submitted to the Senate.

    Senators have a constitutional duty to scrutinize judicial nominees, and I take great care in examining each nominee’s record to ensure that the nominee demonstrates personal integrity, a commitment to the rule of law, and a judicial temperament. Rest assured that when nominees come to the Senate floor, I will thoroughly evaluate their experience, qualifications and judicial philosophy before voting, and I will continue to support those who demonstrate the qualities the American people expect in our judiciary.
  • Other Party
    Nebraska
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    This is great news for Democrats...as long as they are in the majority.

    How much will they complain when/if they lose that majority? A lot.

    Politics, like many other things in life runs in cycles. The Dems may win every election from now on, but I have heard many predictions in past years of how this or that political party is finally dead, and they have always come back.

    So, we will see.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    From Harry Reid's speech in the Senate today:

    "The need for change is obvious. In the history of the Republic, there have been 168 filibusters of executive and judicial nominations. Half of them have occurred during the Obama Administration – during the last four and a half years. These nominees deserve at least an up-or-down vote. But Republican filibusters deny them a fair vote and deny the President his team."

    TPM Harry Reid's Full Speech Calling For Filibuster Reform (TEXT, VIDEO)

    Regarding going back to the norm...this is great news for Democrats...it is great news for Republicans...it is great news for our Democracy. Majority rules. If the Republicans get back in power, then they did so because the people elected them...and they will deserve to have an up or down vote on every executive nomination.

    Oh and then there is this blast from the past:

    “This is not the first time a minority of Senators has upset a Senate tradition or practice, and the current Senate majority intends to do what the majority in the Senate has often done–use its constitutional authority under article I, section 5, to reform Senate procedure by a simple majority vote.” -- Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Whip 2005
  • Liberal
    Other Party
    Llos Angeles, CA
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    Haven't I been saying this for the last three months????? we live in a 51% majority.

    Lets say that down the road...Roe v. Wade is reversed. Oh well. This rule change may wake voters up after their 35 year slumber
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    L A Citizen --

    I don't understand your Roe versus Wade reference. Roe versus Wade is the law of the land. The change in filibuster rules for judicial nominations doesn't affect Supreme Court nominations or any other legislation put forth in the Senate. That is still at the 60 threshold.

    And I don't think the rule change will wake up voters because from my experience in canvassing neighborhoods they don't have the foggiest idea what this is all about....and could care less.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    that guy in Arizona Wrote: At present, however, nearly 60% of these open positions have no nominees, and cannot be filled until nominations are submitted to the Senate.
    This is technically true, but it is far more complex if you dig into it more. The reason so many of these are vacant is because a judgeship is supposed to be recommended by a Senator from the state where there is a vacancy. Senators that hail from Republican states, along with their Republican Governor's, have been refusing to recommend anyone most of the time and when they do, it is typically someone that they fully know will not be nominated by the President.
  • Liberal
    Other Party
    Llos Angeles, CA
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    Schmidt Wrote: L A Citizen --

    I don't understand your Roe versus Wade reference. Roe versus Wade is the law of the land. The change in filibuster rules for judicial nominations doesn't affect Supreme Court nominations or any other legislation put forth in the Senate. That is still at the 60 threshold.

    And I don't think the rule change will wake up voters because from my experience in canvassing neighborhoods they don't have the foggiest idea what this is all about....and could care less.
    I was using Roe v. Wade as an example in that the filibuster rule change is now open to expansion,,, they'll attempt to expand the new rule if the right wins the senate,,,, just as the filibuster acted as a "second bite at the apple' as it interfered with the separation of powers.... we live under 51% rule of democracy, not 60////// Roe v. Wade is the law of the land by only 1 vote.... it can be reversed and is ripe for attack
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    L.A. Citizen Wrote: I was using Roe v. Wade as an example in that the filibuster rule change is now open to expansion,,, they'll attempt to expand the new rule if the right wins the senate,,,, just as the filibuster acted as a "second bite at the apple' as it interfered with the separation of powers.... we live under 51% rule of democracy, not 60////// Roe v. Wade is the law of the land by only 1 vote.... it can be reversed and is ripe for attack
    We are a constitutional democracy. There is not one word in our Constitution that refers to the Senate's right to filibuster anything. It was a rule that was adopted in 1806 regarding a motion to proceed, or "to move the previous question." The first filibuster was used in 1837 and was hardly used for the next one hundred plus years after that.

    We have always lived in a 50.00001 percent rule democracy. That's what democracy means. The majority rules. Sometimes we on the left will love it. Other times we will not and will have to mobilize to change things in the next election.

    And with regards to Roe V Wade--I dare the right to go down that path. They will forever lose the women and youth vote. It's a wedge issue that excites their religious right base, but I have to think they are smarter than actually trying to follow through with enacting a national ban.
  • Liberal
    Other Party
    Llos Angeles, CA
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    I just don't know anymore. 20 years ago I would have easily agreed with you. Look at the crazies in Congress now. I would never have believed that these nuts would ever be allowed entrance to government. people are crazy today. Oklahoma stopped all marriages yesterday....Insanity
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    I didn't know what this topic was about until I watched the Daily show with Jon Stewart last night. He explained it with a touch of humor.