Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, November 20th, 2013.

Going Nuclear

Obama Administration

GOP senators have blocked the nominations of three judges to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The senators didn’t even pretend to argue that the nominees (an African-American man and two women, btw) were not qualified. No, they argued that (1) the court doesn’t need 11 judges and can make do with three less; and (2) the court is balanced between Republican and Democratic nominees, and three Democratic nominees would throw it out of balance..

As to the first claim, we’re talking about the nation’s second-highest court, which handles cases involving federal regulations and national security. Complicated stuff. Eleven judges don’t seem too many to me. As to the second claim, Media Matters says that isn’t entirely true. And, anyway, Barack Obama won the 2012 election.

Harry Reid is once again threatening to “go nuclear” and change filibuster rules. But will he really do it this time, or wimp out again? Word is that some Dem senators who were cool to the idea in the past, e.g., Diane Feinstein, are frustrated enough to have changed their minds.

Changing the filibuster rules is not without risk, if you consider a future hypothetical right-wing Congress. And Brian Beutler thinks the Republicans want the Dems to at least try to change the filibuster rules for that very reason. Right now they think they can take back the Senate in 2014, and “Getting Democratic fingerprints on the nuclear rule-change precedent, will provide Republicans the cover they’ll need to eliminate the filibuster altogether in January 2015.”

But, as Charles Pierce says,

It’s time, Harry. Really, it is. I was on the other side of this issue for a very long time because I didn’t want to confront the possibility of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with the unlimited power to do anything that President Scott Walker wanted. That kind of thing still gives me pause. But this business with the judges has long passed over the International Fk You Line.

Yeah, pretty much.

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