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Thursday, November 04, 2004

Senate Republicans Considering Changing Filibuster Rules?

This article raises the possibility that the Senate will change its rule requiring 60 votes to defeat any filibuster of a judicial nominee.

It's not clear if this is merely speculation, but it is clear that this is a more attractive possibility for Republicans than it was before the election. Before the election, the Republicans had to fear that, if they changed the filibuster rules, they might lose the presidency and also lose sufficient Senators to put them in the position of a minority opposing a Democratic president. In such a situation, the Republicans would certainly like to have the filibuster at their disposal to block more liberal nominees. Now, however, changing the filibuster rules would give the Republicans, at the very least, four years to shape the federal courts as they alone see fit. Such a power grab may prove irresistible to the Republicans in the Senate, although it may well prove to be counterproductive in the long run.

Note: after posting originally, I found this and this article which also discuss the possibility of the Republican Senators changing the filibuster rules.

Since it definitely appears that changing the filibuster rules is a strong possibility, it may be helpful to review an old article discussing the issue of whether the use of filibusters to block judicial nominations is even constitutional. In addition, this interesting article discusses the procedural and substantive difficulties the Republicans would face in seeking to change the Senate rules permitting the filibuster of judicial nominees. The latter article notes that, at the time it was written, it would be difficult to get all 51 Republican Senators to sign off on the plan, but finding 51 such Senators would obviously be much easier today.

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