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Senate votes to change filibuster rule

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The U.S. Senate has voted to change how many votes are required to break a filibuster to approve executive and judicial nominees, reducing the threshold to the simple majority of 51. The change came about after several nominees were blocked by Republicans.

Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday regarding the changes to the Senate rules, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., commented about hours and days wasted between filibusters.

“In the history of the Republic, there have been 168 filibusters of executive and judicial nominations,” he said. “Half of them have occurred during the Obama Administration – during the last four-and-a-half years. These nominees deserve at least an up-or-down vote.”

He referenced the filibusters by Republicans of nominees for secretary of defense, the consumer financial protection bureau chief, and D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. He said 23 District Court nominees have been filibustered in the history of the U.S.; 20 of them nominated by President Barack Obama.

“With one out of every 10 federal judgeships vacant, millions of Americans who rely on courts that are overworked and understaffed are being denied the justice they rightly deserve,” he said.

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana, said that Senate Democrats and supporters of “Obamacare” used the vote as a distraction to avoid talking about “the damaging impacts of the deeply flawed health care law” on Americans.

“This action to change the Senate rules and weaken the Founding Fathers’ vision for checks and balances is yet another disturbing power grab and reminds the public of how the Democrats jammed through the unwanted health care law,” he said in a statement.

The rule change does not apply to filibusters of Supreme Court nominees and legislation. Those will still require 60 votes.

David Orentlicher, professor at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, said the Senate Democrats have wrongly tampered with an important protection for Senate minority rights with the filibuster “reform.”

The filibuster rule change “provides another example of Congress undermining the Constitution’s basic framework,” he said. “Senate Democrats have made it easier for presidents to have their way with Congress, and that has things backwards. The framers created a system of separated powers so that each branch would check and balance the other branches.”
 

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  1. Major social engineering imposed by judicial order well in advance of democratic change, has been the story of the whole post ww2 period. Contraception, desegregation, abortion, gay marriage: all rammed down the throats of Americans who didn't vote to change existing laws on any such thing, by the unelected lifetime tenure Supreme court heirarchs. Maybe people came to accept those things once imposed upon them, but, that's accommodation not acceptance; and surely not democracy. So let's quit lying to the kids telling them this is a democracy. Some sort of oligarchy, but no democracy that's for sure, and it never was. A bourgeois republic from day one.

  2. JD Massur, yes, brings to mind a similar stand at a Texas Mission in 1836. Or Vladivostok in 1918. As you seemingly gloat, to the victors go the spoils ... let the looting begin, right?

  3. I always wondered why high fence deer hunting was frowned upon? I guess you need to keep the population steady. If you don't, no one can enjoy hunting! Thanks for the post! Fence

  4. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  5. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

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