After years of dithering, Senate Majority Leader
The inside-the-Beltway question about Thursday's "explosion" is whether the
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.
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.