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Filibuster Could Be Gone Permanently

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Yesterday Senate Democrats, under the leadership of Majority Leader Harry Reid, voted to junk the filibuster and approve President Obama’s judicial nominees by a simple 51 majority vote – the so-called “nuclear option.” While the move was in theory limited to judges – excluding Supreme Court nominees and bills – the cultural shift may be permanent.

The filibuster now exists in what you might call an unstable equilibrium. It theoretically forces a 60-vote threshold on important legislation. But it can — and now, in part, has —been undone with 51 votes. Its only protection was the perceived norm against using the 51-vote option. Democrats just blew that norm apart. The moment one party or the other filibusters a consequential and popular bill, that’s likely the end of the filibuster, permanently.

The filibuster’s use has grown dramatically in the past few years hitting new highs with Senate Republicans during the Obama Administration. So to some degree the change, at least initially, will return legislative flow back to a more normal rate.

2013, of all years, is an odd time to finally do this. Democrats no longer control the House as they did when Obama was first elected. The House is extremely conservative and unlikely to send many landmark progressive bills the Senate’s way. But it does free up judicial nominees which will make a difference over time.

The rule change upends the old norms that governed the legislative and executive branch’s roles in seating judges. That means Obama and Dems can fill every vacancy on the federal bench before their control of the Senate, or his presidency, comes to an end.

But it also means liberals ought to now devote more resources toward creating a real progressive counterweight to the conservative legal establishment.

Rolling back the Federalist Society is nothing but a good thing. But let’s also not forget why there was hesitation in doing this, particularly with judges.

If the Republicans retake the White House and Senate you are going to see some truly deranged people getting a federal judgeship. People that make Robert Bork look like a sensible moderate. There is no real progressive counterweight to the conservative movement within the legal establishment at the moment but there is a preexisting roster of off-the-wall conservative judicial wannabes, cultivated by reactionary billionaire funded think tanks, that want to get a gavel and go wild. The only thing stopping them was the filibuster.

So the end of the filibuster means if elections go against the Democrats – Ernest goes to the federal judiciary. Beware.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Filibuster Could Be Gone Permanently

{!hitembed ID=”hitembed_1″ width=”500″ height=”300″ align=”none” !}

Yesterday Senate Democrats, under the leadership of Majority Leader Harry Reid, voted to junk the filibuster and approve President Obama’s judicial nominees by a simple 51 majority vote – the so-called “nuclear option.” While the move was in theory limited to judges – excluding Supreme Court nominees and bills – the cultural shift may be permanent.

The filibuster now exists in what you might call an unstable equilibrium. It theoretically forces a 60-vote threshold on important legislation. But it can — and now, in part, has —been undone with 51 votes. Its only protection was the perceived norm against using the 51-vote option. Democrats just blew that norm apart. The moment one party or the other filibusters a consequential and popular bill, that’s likely the end of the filibuster, permanently.

The filibuster’s use has grown dramatically in the past few years hitting new highs with Senate Republicans during the Obama Administration. So to some degree the change, at least initially, will return legislative flow back to a more normal rate.

2013, of all years, is an odd time to finally do this. Democrats no longer control the House as they did when Obama was first elected. The House is extremely conservative and unlikely to send many landmark progressive bills the Senate’s way. But it does free up judicial nominees which will make a difference over time.

The rule change upends the old norms that governed the legislative and executive branch’s roles in seating judges. That means Obama and Dems can fill every vacancy on the federal bench before their control of the Senate, or his presidency, comes to an end.

But it also means liberals ought to now devote more resources toward creating a real progressive counterweight to the conservative legal establishment.

Rolling back the Federalist Society is nothing but a good thing. But let’s also not forget why there was hesitation in doing this, particularly with judges.

If the Republicans retake the White House and Senate you are going to see some truly deranged people getting a federal judgeship. People that make Robert Bork look like a sensible moderate. There is no real progressive counterweight to the conservative movement within the legal establishment at the moment but there is a preexisting roster of off-the-wall conservative judicial wannabes, cultivated by reactionary billionaire funded think tanks, that want to get a gavel and go wild. The only thing stopping them was the filibuster.

So the end of the filibuster means if elections go against the Democrats – Ernest goes to the federal judiciary. Beware.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.