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February 16, 2005
Nuclear Option

Ari Berman at The Nation details how Senate Republicans, led by Majority Leader Bill Frist, are maneuvering to institute a rule change - known as the Nuclear Option - that would prevent the Democrats from mounting a successful challenge to a Bush judicial nominee.

Under the "nuclear option," Republicans would ask the chamber's presiding officer, who happens to be Vice President Dick Cheney, whether Democratic filibusters are unconstitutional. After Cheney rewrites history by declaring them so, only a simple majority of 51 votes is needed to uphold the ruling, as opposed to the 60 votes required to break a filibuster or the 67 votes required to change the rules under normal procedures. If invoked, the next Supreme Court opening could be filled without any Democrat support, even if four Republicans defect from the party line.

The Nation

Naturally, the Republicans are being entirely hypocritical on this, having blocked fully one-third of Bill Clinton's appeals court nominees. The Democrats blocked just 10 of 229 Bush appointees during his first term, but the Republicans are still ranting and raving about the Democrats "obstructing" the process.

Obviously, the idea that the minority has some limited power to block the majority from ramming through anyone they want is there for a reason. When convenient, the Repugs are happy to take advantage. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, even though that means they are in a far more powerful position overall, they insist on having total power.

Oh, and in their trademark Newspeaky style, they've taken to calling the nuclear option the "constitutional option." Frankly, I'm starting to think that if we as a country are retarded enough to let these people get away with this nonsense, we deserve what we get. Just don't act all surprised.


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