Senate Democrats Change Filibuster Rules, Advance Millett Nomination


On Thursday, the Senate invoked the so-called nuclear option, voting to end the filibuster for most judicial nominees and cabinet appointments. The vote changes a Senate rule that had previously required 60 votes to advance an executive nomination to a confirmation vote, which requires only a simple majority to pass. While the rule change does not affect legislation or Supreme Court nominations, it does have the potential to clear a backlog of nominations and address the increasing number of judicial emergencies created by Republican obstruction.

The 52-48 vote came after Senate Republicans were set to filibuster again the nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals of Patricia Millett, a Washington lawyer who has worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations and who is just one of three recent nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked by Senate Republicans. Like Millett, the other nominees, including Georgetown Law professor Nina Pillard and D.C. Circuit Judge Robert Wilkins, all have a majority of support in the Senate for confirmation. But Senate Republicans have used the filibuster to block those nominations from advancing while they try desperately to maintain control over both the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and the federal judiciary in general.

The impact of the rule change was immediate, as the Senate then voted 55-43 to advance Millett’s nomination. The Senate must now vote for her confirmation, which could happen as early as Friday, or, more likely, after the Thanksgiving recess.

Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, a progressive think tank and public interest law firm praised the change in a statement. “The Founders designed our Constitution to be, by and large, a majority-rule document. Senator Reid’s decision today returns to that founding vision, limiting the filibuster which has become an extra-constitutional tool allowing the minority to gum up our democratic process,” said Kendall.

Marge Baker, executive vice president of People for the American Way, praised the move as a means of getting ending the Senate backlog on judicial nominees in a statement. “The fact that there’s now a path forward to the confirmation of these three extraordinarily qualified D.C. Circuit nominees is unquestionably good news,” said Baker. “We are thrilled that President Obama’s D.C. Circuit nominees and the other federal judicial nominees waiting for Senate votes will finally get the fair consideration that they deserve. Senate Republicans have refused to do their jobs for far too long. It’s time to get the Senate working again.”

The move by Senate Democrats is not without risk. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), a key proponent of the strategy to tie up judicial appointments, has already promised that as soon as Republicans control both the White House and the Senate they will eliminate the filibuster for the Supreme Court as well. But Democrats were left with little choice after Senate Republicans made obstruction and nullification their governing strategy. “Republicans’ abuse of Senate rules during this administration has been astounding,” Baker said. “While President Obama has made an effort to work with Republican senators to nominate fair, accomplished judges, Republicans have blocked his nominees at every turn, often for no reason other than the fact that it was President Obama who nominated them.”

According to analysis by the People for the American Way, Republicans were on an unprecedented pace to filibuster at least 40 presidential nominees. And with filibuster abuse just one example of many used by the right to employ this strategy, there was never any guarantee that Grassley’s threat wouldn’t have come true even if Senate Democrats didn’t vote to curb the filibuster. “This irresponsible obstruction is part of a larger effort by Republicans in Congress to nullify laws they don’t like and overturn the results of elections that they lost,” said Baker. “This profoundly anti-democratic approach to governing shut down our federal government, and threatened to shut down our courts.”

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  • http://aconservativeteacher.blogspot.com aconservativeteacher

    “Filibuster abuse”? So have we changed the definition of “abuse” now to “engaging in legal, acceptable, and traditional uses of the rules and laws of society”? I guess this is the kind of change that we all voted for in 2008, eh? Seriously, how do people not laugh when they speak liberalism. Oh, I hereby proclaim that any unfriendly replying to my comments is “comment abuse” and shall not be tolerated!

    • smithmm

      Blocking any president’s constitutional duties and right to fill vacant positions by filibustering all otherwise acceptable nominees is an abuse of the advise and consent role of the Senate.

      • davidbrent

        so now, the libs look to the constitution? when it suits them. but discard it at every other turn. from beginning to end of this issue, the hypocrasy is vulgar.

        • Jennifer Starr

          Isn’t hypocrisy something that conservatives love? Exactly how many of the ‘family values’ conservatives actually practice what they preach?

          • dildo depot

            http://www.mommyish.com/2013/10/29/10-reasons-to-have-an-abortion/#comment-1135866903

            heather here won’t adopt a child, let alone an ivf embryo because it would be TOO INCONVENIENT RIGHT NOW

            reminds me of myintx…

          • Arekushieru

            Oh, yeah, btw, I commented on that.

          • davidbrent

            yes the repubs are not free of hypocrisy… i agree. but can you admit that the libs repeated trashing of the constitution, especially in this filibuster case is a prime example of hypocrisy?

        • CJ99

          If you had your way the constitution would be on a cardboard roll in the bathroom faster than anyone could say craptastic.

          • Arekushieru

            CJ99, have I told you how awesome you are at the putdown? You do it SO well and you don’t have to use terms that are considered pejorative to do it!

          • CJ99

            thanks, but those repuglickers sure make it easy to do. As much as I disliked star trek tng they sure do remind me of those “packlid” people.

          • davidbrent

            not sure why you can make that inference from anything ive written. i believe entirely in the brilliance of the constitution. i believe its very clear lines between the three branches of government and the barriers between state and federal government are the safeguards from ultimate corruption and near dictatorship. because of my belief in and respect for the US Constitution, i fear that this administartions total disregard for the constitution is setting precendent for absolute lawlessness and tyrannical rule.

        • Arekushieru

          So now, the cons look to the constitution? when it suits them. but discard it at every other turn, like denying a woman the right to medical privacy that makes every other medical decision the purview of the patient or the right to self-determination that makes rape illegal. Hmm…. from beginning to end of this issue, the hypocrasy (sic) is vulgar.

          • davidbrent

            Arekushieru… if we are discussing constitutional rights… you are misinformed. The US Constitution makes no provision for medical privacy for woman or man. If im wrong, please site the text in the Constitution. Funny though that you seem to value that right to medical privacy… which is quite ironic (as i assume youre a liberal)… since the administrative decisions of the liberals over past 5 years especially have done everything to violate the citizens’ (both male and female) right to privacy on all levels. From NSA spying, to IRS tageting of conserervatives, to the IRS enforcing ACA, and to the complete release of medical records to the government as a pre-requisite to take part in the health-care program that most americans are being forced to partake against their will… each of these acts of the liberal government violate privacy every day… and violate the Constitution. Specifically to the issue at hand and which i originally commented, the fillibuster… the blatant hypocrasy on this issue in firmly demonstrated in recent history when the dems, including then Senator Obama, fought against the possibility of the Repubs invoking the nuclear option. So the Dems recent decision to invoke the same nuclear option that they fought so vehemently against is the prime example of hypocrasy.

          • Jennifer Starr

            Hypocrisy is the correct spelling. Not hypocrasy. I won’t go into the other misspellings at this point, but you should know that it makes it hard to understand what you’re saying. And what in God’s name have apostrophes ever done to you?

          • davidbrent

            Jennifer… im not sure my spellchecking is the point. but ill assume that commenting on the typos is a good way for you to avoid the facts within my post. which, let’s (apostrophe for you so u understand what i mean) be honest… isnt hard to interpret despite my massive inability to spellcheck.

          • lady_black

            Medical privacy would be included in the concept of liberty, sir. How “free” will you be when the state makes all your medical decisions? Wouldn’t that make you sort of ‘property’?

          • davidbrent

            lady-black… while i entirely agree that medical privacy is something that should not be compromised, I cant see that there is an explicit notation of medical privacy in the constitution. but if you can make that case, im all for it. my goal in referencing that concept really was to point out that a person who advocates for the ACA, cant also claim medical privacy rights as a valued principle… as the ACA violates medical privacy rights from step 1.

          • lady_black

            My argument is that if you will simply read the ninth amendment, you will see that rights under the constitution need not be “explicit.” The right to medical privacy is IMPLICIT (as opposed to explicit) in the concept of liberty. If you wish to argue that it’s NOT implied in the concept of liberty, you will only succeed in making yourself look foolish. We’re finished here. The ACA has no effect on medical privacy. You still have all the same medical autonomy you had before.

          • davidbrent

            lady black… then wouldnt it be my IMPLICIT RIGHT to decide how to provide healthcare for myself… rather than the federal government compel me to do so? id consider that to be an implied element of liberty. I will also say that im amazed at the arrogance you project. who are you to declare exclusive ability to interpret various implied meanings of something so vast as liberty. also, prior to ACA, the federal government and certainly the IRS had no right to my medical information or control over my healthcare decisions. that is no longer the case. “autonomy” is ones right to govern or make decisions for himself. i no longer have, as you say, “medical “autonomy”. nor do 10s of millions of Americans who had that autonomy prior to ACA.

          • lady_black

            Yes. you absolutely have medical autonomy. You just no longer have the right to be uninsured. You don’t need to use any of your benefits. But eventually you will. Now stop conflating issues and move on. Go hump someone else’s leg.

          • davidbrent

            so as you see it…i have medical autonomy when my healthcare costs have doubled, my deductible has gone up and my physician is no longer available in the plan the government has designed. that doesnt sound like autonomy to me. sadly its impossible not to conflate the issues, as they are intertwined completely when applied to the situation at hand. its sad that your attitude is so arrogant that a person who disagrres with you is the equivalent of a bored dog. have a great holiday season and realize that there is a chance that you dont have all the answers …and theres nothing wrong with that.

          • CJ99

            yes we are discussing rights. you however are promoting constitutional wrongs. In fact it wasn’t the liberals you see hiding under your bed who promoted the surveillance happy spy culture we now live in. here’s another clue for you the IRS is not a health care agency, its a revenue agency. You sure do blather on about hypocrisy a lot considering your the one doing it without any knowledge of how to spell it.

          • davidbrent

            i love how smart and informed you pretend to be. trying to write like some shakepearian policy genius. check your facts. the IRS is the chief enforcement agency for the ACA.

          • lady_black

            The IRS handles the tax penalty for failing to have insurance. Who would you expect to handle that? The Department of Agriculture? The IRS isn’t privy to your medical matters.

          • davidbrent

            nor is the IRS privy to my political leanings… which was proven untrue this year. also…im not sure how much clearer it can be. the IRS, as the chief enforcement agency of the ACA, is integrally/significantly involved for the first time ever in the healthcare process. you can attain your own comfort level with that fact. I am not comfortable with it. undeniably, the IRS has recently compromised, for political purposes, personal information in its hands. How can we trust our personal medical information will not be also compromised by the IRS in the same way. As to your question “Who would i expect to handle the penalty for not having health insurance?” that is a good question… and one that brings me to square one… i dont want any department of the federal government involved at all in this process. as displayed by the awful planning, management and delivery of this $150million website, and as evidenced by the 10’s of millions of people being kicked off plans that they were happy with… the government does nothing efficiently, and should stay out of this… at least as the ACA is setup.

          • lady_black

            Hey DUMMY! The IRS is not now, and will NEVER be involved in your healthcare decisions. This is no different than the state denying you a new registration sticker if you refuse to carry automobile insurance. And the SCOTUS upheld it. Get over it.

          • davidbrent

            what is with everybody on this discussion and all the insults. I agree with very little you say, but dont hurl insults. your character is evident in your statements…and deducts from our ability to have an actual exchange of ideas. Again, the IRS is involved in my healthcare decisions for the reasons ive stated. this ACA is less a tool for providing affordable quality care and more a tool for redistributing wealth. and while a STATE can deny me the privilege of driving, the FEDERAL government should not be able to judge the healthcare decisions ive made and penalize me for not making the decisions some bureacrat has decided upon. registering for a car is not a life changing decision or significat expense… matters of healthcare are far different… so your auto anaolgy doesnt resonate with me. Also, the SCOTUS upheld this as a tax rather than how it was sold to the American people as not being a tax. but ike everything else about this bill, from its coming to fruition through the tactic of reconciliation, to the lies about people keeping their doctors and health insurance, to it not being a tax, its all a big lie.

          • Arekushieru

            You didn’t read what I said very well, did you? Here, let me quote, with emphasis added, to clarify what you missed: like denying a woman the right to medical privacy that makes EVERY OTHER MEDICAL ISSUE THE PURVIEW OF THE PATIENT; Hmm, doesn’t that mean that if that right isn’t in the constitution then every other medical issue should be forced on patients? Yet, somehow, not even Rethuglicans can agree on that. THERE’S the fucking hypocrisy for you.

            Also, ACA operates on the SAME principle that every PRIVATE health care insurance program operates. Do you complain about PRIVATE insurers being granted complete release of all medical records? Again, THERE’S your hypocrisy. I trust PRIVATE insurers with my medical information FAR less than I do the government, btw. Besides, do you have a source for the link that shows that the government will force most *USians* to take part in the ACA?

            Yeah, I’ve heard about how Obama fought against invoking the nuclear option. And I also know the reasons WHY. THEIR reasoning was based on opposition to the SAME Republican attitude that they are NOW displaying to filibuster the Obama nominations.

            And that’s a fucking CANADIAN telling you that. How sad.

    • dildo depot

      Yes and the government shutdown was totes democratic

    • Jennifer Starr

      Maybe with their favorite game of obstruct, obstruct, obstruct taken away from them, the teabirchers will finally be forced to actually do their jobs and serve the people who elected them. You think?

      • davidbrent

        Jennifer… the conservatives in office were elected specifically to protect and promote the interests of those that voted for them. by opposing the Presidents liberal policies, these conservatives are doing exactly what they were sent to Washington to do. Maybe the man you sent to the white house should start doing his job in a way that demostrates some level of competence, and some recognition of his responsibility to people of this country… judging by recent polls… 62% of whom, dont approve of the job is was sent to do… you think?

        • Jennifer Starr

          Congressional approval is even lower–these people got in by promising to do something about jobs and from what I can they’ve done just about anything but that.

          • davidbrent

            Jennifer… if you followed the Congressional races, youd know that the republicans who won, campaigned almost exclusively on defunding or repealling Obamacare… something that conservatives see as a first step in gettting our country’s finances in order. Agree or not with that plan/goal… but that is the platform on which they were elected.
            Sadly, the Democrats have run the Government for 5 years now (7 if you include that last 2 Bush years).. so there is little the Repubs can do to impact the dismal economy and employment numbers. That all lies at the feet of the Party that controls the government… the Dems.

          • colleen2

            if you followed the Congressional races, youd know that the republicans
            who won, campaigned almost exclusively on defunding or repealling
            Obamacare…

            Oh my, I certainly hope that you and the rest of your sexist, racist, corrupt and treasonous movement adopt this belief as the basis of your 2014 ‘strategy’.

          • davidbrent

            yes… because “my movement” has a monopoly on racism, sexism, corruption and treason. Biden hasnt made racist comments? A Democrat Senator wasnt a KKK member? Obama wasnt assigned a Special Investigator to check out $11Billion in federal grants that were pushed through to his campaign donors? Tim Geitner himself wasnt a tax cheat? Charles Rangold didnt cook books and evade taxes and use tax dollars for personal gain? Bill Clinton wasnt a misogynist? and if your gonna go as far as call people of my mindset, supporters of treason, I have to ask you then…. Obamas neglect in Benghazi isnt treasonous?

        • CJ99

          Yeah that’s a great argument you’ve got there. Claiming god sent them there to cripple the goverment with illiterate tripe & hapless idiocy. You speak a lot about competence when you know not what it means.

          • davidbrent

            I made no such claim about god sending anybody anywhere. the voters sent these people there to represent conservative ideas. which are the exact opposite ideas of the current government. as the polls indicate most americans do not believe in the goals or performance or trustworthiness of this administration. that has nothing to do with the guys who control 1/2 of 1/3 of the government. the repubs actually have very little power. so can we stop blaming them for the failings of this administration.

    • cjvg

      “unfriendly replying to my comments is “comment abuse” and shall not be tolerated!”
      Unfortunately for you , you can not dictate that the rest of us have to accept your opinion as unassailable!

      We have every right to reply in the negative that your assertions are patently not truth full or believable, and you have no choice to accept that we are allowed to dismiss your opinions regardless of your threats!

      If you comment on a public forum you will get a response, they might be positive or they might be negative but you can not resort to attempts at curtailing the opinions and rights of others to challenge those opinions!

      After all you had the audacity to comment “unfriendly” to this writers article and you were not banned, its profoundly hypocritical of you to claim the right to do yourself, and attempt to forbid and curtail this same right for others who do not agree with your public statements?

    • CJ99

      calling yourself a teacher is abuse against all of humanity.

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