Did Majority Leader Harry Reid just win the day? The so called “nuclear option” just passed and that means that the GOP, who have been blocking judicial and executive branch nominees for years, can no longer simply block nominations to the courts. Prior to today, the GOP would simply refuse to allow confirmation hearings on Obama’s nominees and there didn’t necessarily have to be a reason. They would threaten to filibuster, and one GOP Senator is all you need to block a nomination.
After five years of filibusters, obstruction, lengthy waits for confirmation and arguments over whether the party that failed to win either the White House or the Senate nonetheless has the power to hold top government jobs open for as long as Barack Obama is president, Senate Democrats finally decided that enough is enough. On Thursday, nearly every member of the Democratic caucus invoked a procedural maneuver that will allow the Senate to confirm several blocked nominees by a majority vote. The era of minority rule is over, at least where it comes to almost every confirmation. Senate.
As Vice President Joe Biden would say, this is a BFD. As Ultraviolet points out, ”the Tea Party blocked pro-choice, pro-woman superhero Professor Nina Pillard for a judgeship on the powerful DC Circuit Court, despite a clear majority of 57 Senators supporting her.” The Republican abuse of the filibuster, on all matters, but more specifically appointments to the federal bench are unprecedented. And as the readers of this blog know, courts matter. The D.C. circuit in particular, which is the most recent victim of GOP “filibuster everything” mentality is essentially the second most important court in the entire country.
An ideological shift that would be caused by finally confirming President Obama’s picks, could shape jurisprudence on myriad issues nationwide. In addition, the D.C. circuit court is where presidents look for their next Supreme Court appointment. If President Obama can finally confirm progressive judges to the D.C. circuit courts, this sets up a future where the Supreme Court may finally be able to shift back from the conservative imbalance we live with right now.
Zerlina Maxwell really wants to be a superhero, but will settle for blogging.