Senate votes to change filibuster rule

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.”


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  2. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  3. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  4. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  5. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well