Opinion
Get Opinion in your inbox -- sign up for our weekly newsletter
Editorial
Opinion Editorial

Democrats bust the filibuster, and good for them

After years of dithering, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday finally triggered the so-called nuclear option and pushed through a change of rules that will allow the vast majority of presidential nominations to be confirmed if they are supported by a simple majority. The filibuster has been busted — and a good thing too.

The inside-the-Beltway question about Thursday's "explosion" is whether the Republicans had it coming. They did. After Reid drew back from the nuclear option in July in exchange for Republican acquiescence in the confirmation of some executive branch nominees, the GOP leadership decided to filibuster three more of President Obama's nominees, this time to the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Republicans feared, not irrationally, that the Obama appointments would tilt the court leftward.

Unable to quarrel with the nominees' stellar credentials, Republicans opposed them on the pretext that the D.C. Circuit was underworked and didn't need more judges. One by one, Obama's choices were denied the 60 votes needed for their nominations to proceed. That was too much for Reid. So on Thursday, he dusted off the nuclear option. Henceforth senators won't be able to filibuster presidential nominees, with the exception of candidates for the Supreme Court.

PHOTOS: Famous filibusters (and a bonus -- a recipe for fried oysters)

We welcome this action not because it represents a comeuppance for arrogant Republicans but because filibustering presidential nominees is undemocratic and violates the spirit if not the letter of the Constitution, which says that the president shall appoint judges and other officials "by and with the advice and consent of the Senate" — not by and with a supermajority of the Senate. This isn't a new position for this page. We advocated the nuclear option in 2005, when Republicans were threatening to "go nuclear" to stymie Democratic filibusters of judges nominated by President George W. Bush.

In recent years, the original, stem-winding filibuster mutated into a "filibuster lite" that allowed senators in the minority to block a vote on a nominee without having to engage in marathon speechmaking. A once-rare form of obstruction became commonplace. Now a minority of senators will be free to vote against a president's nominees but not to prevent a vote from being taken. That's a victory not just for the Democrats but for good government.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Six famous filibusters (and a bonus -- a recipe for fried oysters)

    Six famous filibusters (and a bonus -- a recipe for fried oysters)

    In the face of ongoing obstruction by Republicans, Senate Democrats voted Nov. 21 to bar filibusters on presidential nominees (except for Supreme Court justices). The filibuster will still be available on proposed legislation, such as immigration or appropriations bills. Here's a look at some of...

  • Harry Reid busts the filibuster

    Harry Reid busts the filibuster

    He did it. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, once a defender of Senate tradition, triggered the so-called nuclear option Thursday by pushing through a rule change to allow the confirmation of most presidential nominees by a simple majority. The final straw was the Republicans' filibustering of...

  • Senate Democrats rewrite the filibuster rule. Now what?

    Senate Democrats rewrite the filibuster rule. Now what?

    The sight of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) using procedural legerdemain to weaken the filibuster rule Thursday must have sent Robert C. Byrd spinning in his grave.

  • Los Angeles could use more COIN

    Los Angeles could use more COIN

    Last month, when Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Herb Wesson announced a tentative contract with unions representing more than half of the city's civilian workforce, budget watchdogs clamored for details so they could analyze the potential financial impact. They're still waiting,...

  • Too many 'ifs' in L.A.'s Olympic projections

    Too many 'ifs' in L.A.'s Olympic projections

    Questions about the financial assumptions in Los Angeles' proposal to host the 2024 Olympic Games are starting to add up. Or, rather, not add up.

  • Would the GOP's healthcare ideas work? It depends on your definition of 'work.'

    Would the GOP's healthcare ideas work? It depends on your definition of 'work.'

    Just like in the 2012 election, every Republican candidate for president wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Some of the candidates have even come forward with ideas for replacing it, and we are beginning to get a sense of what Republican healthcare reform might look like.

  • Compulsory kindergarten: Still a bad idea

    Compulsory kindergarten: Still a bad idea

    Kindergarten hasn't been its old self for a long time. After decades of increasing focus on academics, it recently became more standardized as well; the curriculum for California's 5-year-olds is now aligned with the Common Core academic standards. Kindergarten teachers are no longer preoccupied...

  • Back to school, again and again

    Back to school, again and again

    Even in places that remain in touch with the rhythms of agriculture, few seasonal markers prove as heady, reliable and poignant as the reopening of school. Every September the crosswalks ripen with kids in their back-to-school clothes; the long yellow buses harvest our lanes and streets. First...

Comments
Loading
71°