Filibuster Summer is Coming Our Way

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In recent years, the DC Court of Appeals has been busily at work trying to undermine as much of President Obama’s agenda as they can get their eager little right-wing hands on. Republicans, needless to say, think this is a fine thing, which means they’re none too eager to let Obama fill the court’s open vacancies with judges who might not be quite such committed Federalist Society members. The filibuster is their weapon of choice to keep the court stacked with conservative judges, but today the New York Times reports that Obama is finally getting ready to fight back by submitting nominees for all three open vacancies simultaneously:

In trying to fill the three vacancies on the 11-member United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit at once, Mr. Obama will be adopting a more aggressive nomination strategy. He will effectively be daring Republicans to find specific ground to filibuster all the nominees.

….Democrats say Republicans in the Senate have violated long-standing traditions by routinely requiring 60 votes to approve even the most uncontroversial legislation or nomination. Democrats are preparing to escalate the dispute this summer by scheduling numerous confirmation votes in a short period of time. If, as Democrats expect, Republicans block those nominations, Mr. Obama and his allies hope the public will notice.

With enough public pressure, some Democrats hope that they could change the Senate rules to prohibit filibusters on judicial nominations and in some other areas.

The strategy appears to be simple: nominate three judges who are left-of-center but basically uncontroversial, giving Republicans no legitimate hook for opposition. If they filibuster anyway, implicitly breaking their promise earlier this year to rein in their obstructionism, maybe centrist Democrats can finally be persuaded to support serious filibuster reform. And the plan, apparently, is to do this at the same time that Republicans are likely to be ramping up yet another hostage-taking exercise over the debt ceiling, thus providing yet more evidence of their extremism. Should be fun.

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