Judicial Nominee Logjam? Change the Rules. ; Republican Leaders Want to Make It Harder to Block Nominations by Filibuster

By Gail Russell Chaddock writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, May 12, 2003 | Go to article overview

Judicial Nominee Logjam? Change the Rules. ; Republican Leaders Want to Make It Harder to Block Nominations by Filibuster


Gail Russell Chaddock writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


After eight failed efforts to break a standoff over two judicial nominations, the Senate GOP leadership is brandishing what insiders are calling the "nuclear" option: a bid to change the rules - and the nature - of the Senate.

Senate Republican leaders are proposing a new rule to end filibusters on judicial nominees by a simple majority vote, rather than the 60 votes that Senate rules now require.

Such a move would challenge one of the deepest personal perogatives in the Senate: the right of Senators to hold the floor and extend debate on issues they deem critical. It would also effectively shut down what is emerging as the Democrats main strategy for influencing judicial nominations.

What's putting the Senate particularly on edge is the prospect that the change may come not by a standard quorum vote, which would likely fail, but by a ruling from the chair, upheld by a simple majority vote.

"That's the nuclear scenario. It blows everything out of the water because it would fundamentally change how the Senate does business," says an expert involved in these deliberations. If such parliamentary machinations succeed, he adds, it could open up other Senate rules to changes.

To outsiders, tinkering with the number of votes required to limit debate may look arcane. But the rules that govern when talk ends and voting starts are the ultimate weapon in Senate politics.

That senators would even consider paring down their rights to debate is a sign of how high the stakes have become on the federal bench - and how bitterly partisan the climate on Capitol Hill.

"It's hard to see how the partisanship on Capitol Hill could get a lot worse, but this move could do it," says political analyst Charles Cook of the Cook Political Report.

A long history

The Founding Fathers set no limits on debate in either chamber - an omission that has been criticized before. In 1917, President Wilson called on the Senate to amend its rules on unlimited debate to "save the country from disaster," after "11 willful men" blocked his requests for new powers on the eve of World War I. Later in the century, epic filibusters delayed civil rights and antilynching laws for decades. In response, liberals changed the rules in 1975 to make it easier to end floor debate.

But until recently, the use of the filibuster to block judicial nominations has been rare: It was used only once by Republicans, to scuttle President Johnson's 1968 nomination of Abe Fortas as chief justice. Now, Democrats are using filibusters to block Bush nominees Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owen to federal appellate courts.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Judicial Nominee Logjam? Change the Rules. ; Republican Leaders Want to Make It Harder to Block Nominations by Filibuster
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.