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Judicial Fillibusters go Bust?

It would seem that eliminating or limiting the judicial fillibuster is on the table for the beginning of the next congress. Let's hope that this rule gets modified. Advice and consent is just that.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., says "tyranny by the minority" must end and he will do whatever it takes. That includes what some call the "nuclear option" to stop Democrats from using the filibuster to block President Bush's judicial nominees.

The issue could cause a major rift in the new Congress that convenes next month.

Republicans insist that use of the filibuster to prevent votes on 10 judicial nominees in the last Congress was unprecedented and unconstitutional. Democrats say they will resist any attempt to eliminate what they say is a legitimate right of the minority that they have used judiciously.

"The filibuster is there. It should be used sparingly," said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the incoming Senate Democratic leader.

Frist wants to change Senate rules to make it harder or impossible to filibuster judicial nominations. It now takes 60 votes to end debate and bring a nominee to a vote. Even with their new majority of 55, it is unclear whether Republicans can reach 60 votes on the most contentious nominees.

He has suggested several options. For example, reducing over time, from 60 to 51, the votes needed to cut off debate, or declaring that filibusters should not apply to judicial nominations. But it takes a two-thirds majority to change Senate rules, and Democrats are unlikely to go along.

More drastic would be the "nuclear option" of having the chair - with Vice President Dick Cheney presiding - declare that filibusters violate the constitutional duty of the Senate to give advice and consent on nominations. A ruling of the chair can be upheld with a simple majority vote. Read whole article.