In a surprising move, the Senate changed its rules to allow for the confirmation of nominees to the judicial and executive branches (except the Supreme Court) by a simple majority vote instead of the 60 votes currently required. The proximate cause was the failure of the Senate to proceed to a vote on Patricia Millett’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit; the 57-40 vote was 3 votes shy of the 60 needed to proceed. The underlying cause is a long-simmering fight about the extent to which the minority can be allowed to indefinitely block the will of the majority, fuelled by the decades-long transformation of the Senate from a collegial to an adversarial body.
We cannot help but wonder, however: is there such a thing as limited filibuster reform? Should nominees to the Supreme Court be exempted from this rule, and should it also extend to substantive legislation? Today’s long anticipated change is known as the “nuclear” option because critics believe its fallout will destroy the current Senate. In the harsh light of what has happened, can there be such a thing as limited nuclear war in the Senate?
O brave new world that has such people in it.
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