Great news. Republicans look at eliminating filibuster for SCOTUS nominees

posted at 11:31 am on January 24, 2015 by Jazz Shaw

I was expecting some action out of the new Congress, but I really never saw this one coming. A group of Republican Senators led by Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) are floating the idea of further extending the nuclear option enacted by the Democrats to take filibusters off the table when considering nominees to the Supreme Court. Clearly wiser heads than myself have been able to determine why this is such a great idea, because I’m not seeing it at the moment.

Top Senate Republicans are considering gutting the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees — a move that could yield big rewards for whichever party controls the White House and Senate after 2016.

The move, still in its early stages, reflects growing GOP confidence in its electoral prospects next year. But it could also have a major immediate impact if a justice such as 81-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg steps down, making it far easier for President Barack Obama to get a replacement confirmed…

The 60-vote filibuster threshold would remain for legislation.

The Politico story seems to focus on whether or not they’ll be able to get most of the Republicans to go along with it, and then persuade a sufficient number of Democrats to join them to reach the magic number of 67. Doesn’t that sound just a bit backward? The Democrats are looking at two years in the minority when the President may very well have to nominate a new SCOTUS justice. They should be doing back flips over the idea, since they can often get at least a few Republicans to support a judicial nomination by the President, and they will only need four or five to seal the deal.

I suppose that the analysis from the authors has some merit when they interpret this as a sign of growing GOP confidence in its electoral prospects, but holy moley… that’s a lot of confidence. I wouldn’t say that 2016 is in the bag for the Republicans in any way, shape or form yet. And besides the White House, it’s still entirely possible (though perhaps not likely) that the Democrats could even take back control of the Senate with a big enough Hillary wave. (Again, I’m not saying that will happen, but we would prove that we’ve foolishly learned nothing from recent history if we ruled out the possibility entirely.) If that happens, the Democrats have already demonstrated that they are willing to change the rules as best suits their needs, and they would switch them back and forth on whichever schedule best facilitates their advantage.

If the GOP scraps the filibuster for SCOTUS nominees now, it benefits nobody except Barack Obama and his allies, making if much easier for him to rail through a far more liberal choice than would otherwise be possible. Then, if the GOP manages to lose the White House again and the margin in the Senate remains small, the Democrats will get at least four more years of benefit out of it. If the Republicans do take the White House but somehow lose ground (and control) in the Senate, the Democrats can simply put the filibuster back in place in January of 2017, and what possible evidence of good will exists to suggest that they wouldn’t make such a hypocritical move?

I suppose I’ll wait to hear a more full explanation from Alexander and friends if this proposal actually picks up steam. But for the moment, it just doesn’t make any sense.


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Comments

I should have said that the RINOs never vote against a judicial appointee. Sorry about that. McCain and the gang that can’t obfuscate enough will come out and say the the President should get who he wants. Happens every time.

fight like a girl on January 25, 2015 at 10:39 AM

Republicans want to weaken Lee, Cruz, and Paul by taking the Filibuster away from them. Republicans want to be able to bargain SCOTUS nominees for pro corporate legislation, while shutting conservatives out. There is money to be made here, constitutional ideologues be damned.

Daemonocracy on January 24, 2015 at 7:18 PM

By George, I think he’s got it!

fight like a girl on January 25, 2015 at 10:42 AM

We may well have strayed from constitutional purity (!) but now is not the time to make things easier for the one-man wrecking-ball, President Obama. The country can’t afford another left-wing hack on the supreme court and we should be prepared to hold up all appointments as long as possible, because he has reliably appointed pernicious fools to many key positions, with disastrous results.

virgo on January 25, 2015 at 11:51 AM

Frankly, I believe that any office that offers a “life-time tenure” should be subject to a super-majority.

J_Crater on January 25, 2015 at 12:02 PM

Republicans want to weaken Lee, Cruz, and Paul by taking the Filibuster away from them. Republicans want to be able to bargain SCOTUS nominees for pro corporate legislation, while shutting conservatives out. There is money to be made here, constitutional ideologues be damned.

Daemonocracy on January 24, 2015 at 7:18 PM

+2. I’m not sure I agree with the allegation of motive – I blame the MSM, in that it’s the Republican “Mavericks” (read: support Obama positions) who get invited to the best parties and put on TV the most – but the move itself has the clear effect of emasculating the Real Conservatives (TM) when it comes to blocking SCOTUS nominees. It’s likely fairly easy to convince five among Graham, Alexander, Blunt, Kirk, Collins, McCain, Hatch and McConnell to vote for an Obama SCOTUS nominee; it’s likely quite difficult to get every single one of those plus seven more.

Zumkopf on January 25, 2015 at 2:10 PM

Frankly, I believe that any office that offers a “life-time tenure” should be subject to a super-majority.

J_Crater on January 25, 2015 at 12:02 PM

…AND recall via citizen petition.

landlines on January 25, 2015 at 3:23 PM

The Republican party is apparently interested in committing suicide…f’in idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!

Doomsday on January 25, 2015 at 7:18 PM

So not only is the GOP utterly unprincipled but also utterly stupid.

redware on January 25, 2015 at 8:34 PM

I’m the designated RINO here, but this is so incredibly stupid. They should be going the other way and restoring the filibuster, so that (should the Dems take back the senate) it can be used as a club against them. Nuking the filibuster with a screaming partisan like Obama in the WH is a fool’s errand. We don’t need Kamala Harris on the Supreme Court for the next 35 years.

Horologium on January 25, 2015 at 9:12 PM

Harry Reid and the Democrats got rid of the fillibuster of Supreme Court nominees.

You need to fix your headline.

papertiger on January 26, 2015 at 12:16 AM

Or pull your head out. Cut an ostomy hole for the periscope. Something.

papertiger on January 26, 2015 at 12:17 AM

(should the Dems take back the senate)

Check current events buddy. If the Democrats take back the Senate they’ll piss on the rules again, and again, and again.

They hate you. They hate me. They hate every effin body. And it will only take turning your back once before they’ll stab you.

papertiger on January 26, 2015 at 12:21 AM

Harry Reid and the Democrats got rid of the fillibuster of Supreme Court nominees.

You need to fix your headline.

papertiger on January 26, 2015 at 12:16 AM

No, they didn’t. That was the only type of judicial nominee which was still subject to a filibuster, probably because even old dinosaurs like McConnell and squishes like Lamar Alexander would have shut down the senate entirely. Further, there are a few Democrats who would have voted against their party on such a vote, because a Supreme Court justice is far more important than even a circuit court judge, and they’d be toast if they allowed such a thing to go forward. Remember all those red-state senators who were incinerated last year? Do you think they would have been willing to defend a vote which was clearly partisan *and* very visible?

Horologium on January 26, 2015 at 3:24 PM