Friday, November 22, 2013

Democrats (Finally) Change Filibuster Rules On Presidential Appointments

The Democratic majority in the United States Senate has finally acted to limit partisan filibusters of presidential appointments, voting 52-48 to change the operating rules of the Senate, by deploying what was previously known as the "nuclear option."

Progressives are generally thrilled with the rule change and this graphic depicting the current makeup of the federal judiciary is the main reason why:

These results are summarized by Campaign for America's Future:
When Obama came into office, Republican appointess held 59.4% of the filled judicial seats. But just this month, Democrats took a one-seat edge and now hold 50.06% of the seats. 
(The shift was little noted in the media. USA Today flagged that Democrats reached a tie on November 1. Soon after, the Senate filled two vacancies, while one new vacancy was createdwhen a Democratic judge moved to “senior” status.) 
But while Dems now hold that paper-thin edge, there are 93 vacancies on the table. (Plus another 18 judges have announced they will vacate their seats in the near future.
If Republicans dare Democrats into scrapping the filibuster for judicial nominations, President Obama can move to fill all those vacancies, which would give Democrats control of more than 55% of the judiciary.
It would indeed be a great thing if the federal judiciary actually was occupied by people who thought it was their job to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority and enforce constitutional liberties and civil rights instead of the  fraud of "original intent."

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