Editorials and Opinion
Editorial: Farewell, Filibuster; There’s more work to be done, but this was a big win for democracy. (Nation, 12/16/13)
"During his first five years in office, President Obama faced unprecedented obstruction of routine executive and judicial nominations ... the stalemate returned, coming to a head this fall when the GOP nixed nominations to the DC federal appeals court. Here the long-term stakes are high: the administration’s carbon emission regulations are sure to come before the court, as will much of Dodd-Frank financial reform and large parts of the Affordable Care Act. It’s the last shot (before the Supreme Court) for the GOP and its backers to thwart these laws."
Letter: Filibuster claims untrue (Greenville Daily Reflector [NC], 12/06/13)
Don Clement: "The rule change, which allows a majority to call for a vote, only affects presidential nominations to agencies and judicial benches.... one wonders how freeing the majority to endorse a duly elected president’s appointments in order to fulfill his executive duties puts an “end to deliberation.” Digging your heels in to get your way is not deliberation."
Sen. Angus S. King Jr. column: Filibuster reform (Boothbay Register [ME], 12/06/13)
"This month, three judicial nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, including Patricia Millett of Dexter, were blocked not on the basis of their qualifications, but rather because they were nominated by President Barack Obama. Similarly, Republicans have used procedural hurdles to block executive nominees resulting in a leadership vacuum at many of our federal agencies. ... My vote in favor of the rule change, of finally invoking the nuclear option, reflects my belief that judicial and executive nominees deserve an up-or-down vote by the Senate, regardless of which party is in the majority, or which party controls the White House, and that we needed a structural adjustment to the rules so that the Senate could once again function."
Chris Cilliza Is Still Wrong About the Filibuster (Washington Monthly, 12/06/13)
Jonathan Bernstein: "the key players here weren’t Reid and the Democrats; this was all about the Republicans. ... it’s certain that “nullification” obstruction was solidly over that line. ... When Republicans then extended nullification obstruction to judges, Democrats predictably reacted with a new ultimatum, and had little choice but to follow through when Republicans this time did not retreat. Indeed: what happened during the original nuclear confrontation, over appellate judges during the George W. Bush presidency, is that Democrats mostly backed down.... any analysis that doesn’t mainly focus on the unprecedented obstruction of the Obama era is really just missing the biggest part of the story."
Milbank should know that Senate has changed its rules before (St. Louis Post-Dispatch [MO] , 12/06/13)
Richard Orr letter: "What Reid did was in no way unprecedented, and Milbank should have known this....Right now there have been as many Obama judicial nominees held up by the Republicans as have ever been since the founding of the republic. Now that's what I call a power grab!"
Republicans commit unprecedented obstruction: Times of Trenton Letter to the Editor - Dec. 6: (The Times of Trenton [NJ] , 12/06/13)
Ronald A. LeMahieu: "With their opposition to President Obama’s three recent nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Republicans have gone too far. Sometime ago, the Republican leader in the Senate said essentially that their goal was to make sure that Obama’s was a failed presidency. Since he took office, Republicans have become the “party of no”: “just say no” to all his initiatives and never propose constructive solutions to the nation’s problems. They will no longer be able to just say no to his judicial nominees."
OUR OPINION: Amending the president’s ability to govern (Patriot Ledger [MA], 12/05/13)
"The filibuster of three judicial appointees pushed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over the edge, compelling him to make the change to U.S. Senate rules members have been threatening for years.... The filibuster of three judicial appointees pushed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over the edge, compelling him to make the change to U.S. Senate rules members have been threatening for years."
Editorial: Common Sense Prevails; Senate Democrats were right to overturn out-moded flilbuster rules. (Memphis Flyer [TN], 12/05/13)
"A thought — actually a whoop of joy on our part — concerning the action of a Senate majority the week before last in taking the overdue step of scrapping antique rules regarding the filibuster — at least, in the case of presidential appointments. The Republican minority's habit of obstructing such appointments via the filibuster and, in effect, holding them for ransom has in recent years made a mockery of fair play and, in case after delayed case, brought the most routine workings of the executive branch into jeopardy."a
Sen. King: Filibuster changes needed (Seacoastonline [Southern ME & NH], 12/05/13)
"Yet abuse of the filibuster only grew worse. This month, three judicial nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, including Patricia Millett of Dexter, were blocked not on the basis of their qualifications, but rather because they were nominated by the president."
Senate Democrats played more fairly [Letter to the Editor] (Richmond Times-Dispatch [VA], 12/05/13)
Glenn Sugameli: "Unfortunately, the editorial mistakenly equates the transposed Senate Republican and Democratic positions on filibuster rules. Many Republican senators filibustered President Obama’s judicial nominations despite insisting it was unconstitutional to filibuster President George W. Bush’s nominees. In contrast, Senate Democrats did not execute unexplained flips on the Constitution. Instead, their policy change reflected unprecedented Republican decisions to filibuster any possible nominees for three Washington, D.C., Circuit Court vacancies after the Senate confirmed Bush judges to all three seats."
Letter to the editor: History and the filibuster (Tampa Tribune [FL] , 12/05/13)
Edward R. Coursey: "As an educated American who has read the Constitution, I am appalled when reading a letter such as the one from Keith A. Poot of Dade City (“It’s all about liberty,” Letter of the Day, Nov. 30) in which he asserts that there is a constitutional basis for the filibuster emanating from the Founding Fathers....Whether one likes the filibuster or not, neither the filibuster nor the ending of one by cloture has any history in the Constitution or with the Founding Fathers."
Local Voices South: Fair play [Letter to the Editor] (Chicago Tribune, 12/05/13)
Dennis Gorecki: "While Senate filibusters occurred rarely, if at all, during presidential administrations prior to Bill Clinton, such actions have substantially and irresponsibly increased during the Obama administration. Even your Nov. 22 editorial "Mutual assured destruction; The danger of the Senate's filibuster vote" admits that "Republicans have been rank obstructionists" who are trying "to thwart this president from putting his stamp on the judiciary."... due to the Republican obstructionism, President Barack Obama never has had a chance to reach bipartisan agreement. Minority checks on the power of the majority are essential to a democracy, but so is fair play, compromise and common sense."
Our View: Time had come for end of Senate filibuster (South Coast Today [MA], 12/05/13)
"[T]he death of the filibuster has been overdue for some time. Instead of a protection afforded to the minority party, it has too often been used as an obstructionist tool designed to bring the business of government to a halt. It remains to be seen whether Democrats will rue this day when they, at some point, return to the minority. Similarly, when Republicans eventually return to the majority, it will be interesting to see just how quickly they move to restore the filibuster for Democratic use."
A 'nuclear option' was needed to overcome GOP obstructionists [Letter] (Baltimore Sun, 12/05/13)
Glenn Sugameli: "Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. rewrites recent history in his one-sided column on the Senate filibuster rule ....
He utterly ignores the many Republican senators who filibustered President Barack Obama's judicial nominations after having insisted that it was unconstitutional to filibuster former GOP President George W. Bush's nominees. In contrast to these unexplained GOP flips on constitutional mandates, the positions of the Senate Democrats that Mr. Ehrlich quotes are quite consistent with the Constitution, which neither authorizes nor bans filibusters. The Democrats' rule change reflected the unprecedented Republican decision to filibuster any possible nominees for three D.C. Circuit Court vacancies"
Bipartisanship is the only way to move forward (Journal Tribune [York County, ME], 12/05/13)
Bernard Featherman, business columnist & former president of Biddeford-Saco Chamber of Commerce: "The Democrats in the Senate have made a move toward implementing reasonable standards for decision-making. Both houses of Congress are supposed to operate on majority rule, but for too long the Senate has allowed filibustering, where one or more members who oppose an appointment or action could prevent any vote taking place. At least now, the Senate has clamped down on filibusters of many appointments, except for the Supreme Court, so that judicial and executive positions that have long been open can be filled. Republicans were even using the filibuster to prevent moderate candidates for federal courts from being accepted, just so President Obama could not make any appointments. That is wrong. It is not conservative. It is just bull-headed. And it hurts the Republican Party more than it hurts the Democratic Party."
Editorial: Senators should confirm Reeves before holidays (Knoxville News Sentinel [TN] , 12/05/13)
"Continued Senate inaction on other matters, however, would needlessly delay the confirmation of a U.S. District Court judge nominee for East Tennessee, Knoxville lawyer Pamela Reeves. In a meeting with News Sentinel editors and reporters this week, Sen. Lamar Alexander said all that is needed is for Majority Leader Harry Reid to schedule a vote. Alexander said he sees no reason why Reeves would not be confirmed, noting that no district court nominee has ever been blocked by a filibuster. “It’s up to Harry Reid,” Alexander said. “All he has to do is bring her name up. I know of no problem with Pam. I’ve met with her. The way you get confirmation is, the Democratic leader makes a motion to confirm and I don’t know any reason why she wouldn’t be.” Reid should pay attention to Alexander."
Editorial: Democrats right to change filibuster rule (Green Bay Press Gazette [WI] , 12/05/13)
"Republicans, who hold 45 seats, were able to use the filibuster to block many of President Barack Obama’s federal agency and judicial nominees....In this Senate, in many cases, there seemed to be little reason to block a nominee other than that Obama made the nomination."
Krauthammer’s Backflip on the Filibuster (Dispatches from the Culture Wars blog, 12/05/13)
Ed Brayton: "Charles Krauthammer, considered one of the smarter and more reasonable conservative columnists, pulls off a rare double backflip with a half twist on the question of the Senate filibuster."
America is better off without a filibuster (Washington Times, 12/04/13)
Steve Levy: "Super majorities are sometimes required, as when enacting constitutional amendments ... But Senate rules have required super majorities to get anything passed. ... The safeguards James Madison embedded in our Constitution already provide protections to the minority. There is no need to pass rules that create a permanent gridlock within our democracy by allowing a small minority to become the tail that wags the dog. It would be natural for Republicans to oppose this rule change since the previous rules kept the Obama administration from placing more far-left jurists on the federal courts. But the reality is that the nation voted for a Democratic president who has a right to make his appointments, just as a Republican would."
Deny and obstruct (St. Louis American, 12/04/13)
Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, Guest Columnist: "African Americans and women are among those blocked from getting judgeships and government jobs by Tea Party conservatives, a vocal minority within the Republican Party. Those blocked nominees include Robert L. Wilkins, a Federal District Court judge in Washington, whom the president nominated to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and Congressman Melvin Watt (D-NC), who was nominated to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency. ... Since federal judges sit for life, this war within Congress is a power struggle with far-reaching consequences."
Editorial: Democrats right to change filibuster rule (Post-Crescent [WI] , 12/04/13)
"In this Senate, in many cases, there seemed to be little reason to block a nominee other than that Obama made the nomination. Senate Republicans’ use of the filibuster rule was extraordinary. So Senate Democrats have solid ground in their extraordinary move to change the rule to a simple majority vote.... Unfortunately, there’s another trick the minority party can use. A senator can refuse to issue a “blue slip” — an approval — of a judicial nominee from his or her state. According to the Boston Globe, of the 31 federal court vacancies of at least six months, 28 are in states with at least one Republican senator.
It may become another rule that, through extraordinary use, will need extraordinary means to correct."
Heller filibuster remarks a 'paranoid leap' (Reno Gazette-Journal [NV] , 12/04/13)
David Stegen: "Senator Heller linking the change in the filibuster rule for judicial appointments to the Yucca Mountain issue is a paranoid leap similar to beliving that enacting resonable gun safety legislation is an assault on the second amendment. ...
I am baffled that an elected representative who was put into office by majority rule could say (as you quoted him), ”…today’s actions by the Senate have made Nevada even more vulunerable to the will of the majority.” ... It is time that you and the other obstructionists in Congress stop whining"
Letter: GOP to blame for filibuster misuse (Aiken Standard [SC], 12/04/13)
Stephen Pearcy: "Charles Krauthammer, with his usual “fair and balanced” viewpoint, places the blame of the current spate of governmental “lawlessness” on the Democrats while somehow totally ignoring the Republicans.... In reality, it was the Republicans who had violated the spirit and intent of the filibuster by using it to disrupt the government. ...The Democrats were given no choice but to push for a revision of the filibuster rules. And they did so by putting it to a full Senate vote, which the majority won. Krauthammer viewed that as “brute force” - I call it functioning democracy....Krauthammer sounds more like a paid propagandist than professional columnist."
Why I was wrong about the nuclear option (Washington Post, 12/04/13)
Chris Cillizza: "Finally, we misread the fact that people don't care about the filibuster. They don't. At all. But, rather than being a deterrent, that lack of interest emboldened Reid. With the public tuned out to the parliamentary fights of the Senate, there was little political risk -- either personally or more broadly for his party -- for Reid's rule change. Is there any way that Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu loses reelection next fall because she supported changing the rule on filibusters of executive branch and judicial nominees? Or Kay Hagan in North Carolina? Or Reid if he decides to run for reelection in 2016? No way."
Editorial: Congress free from threat of too much work (Mansfield News Journal [OH], 12/04/13)
"Thanks to Senate Republicans needlessly blocking President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees, Senate Democrats changed the rules to allow the nominees’ approval by 51 votes instead of 60. Thus, the major legislative trophy the Senate will have for the year end is filling three seats on the D.C. Court of Appeals."
GOP simply seeks to obstruct Obama [Letter to the Editor] (Palladium-Item [IN] , 12/04/13)
William Roha: "I wasn’t particularly surprised your editorial “Gridlock part of design” (Nov. 25) opposed the recent reform of filibuster rules. I was surprised that you would call those who don’t see this design “truly clueless.” ... Half of all filibusters of presidential appointments have occurred during Obama’s terms. ... Many of the nominees who are filibustered, frequently for longer than a year, end up being confirmed with no significant Republican opposition. The fact is that there is nothing controversial about most nominees. The Republicans just want to prevent Obama from acting as president."
Letter: Governor's Council vital to checks, balances (Berkshire Eagle [MA] , 12/04/13)
Michael J. Albano: "One senator of the 100-member body, for any reason, can hold up a nomination simply by not submitting a "blue slip" of paper to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Currently, there are 31 positions in the federal judiciary that have been vacant for six months or more, with one vacancy in North Carolina dating back to 2006. Locally, the U.S. District Court in Springfield illustrates the point. Earlier this year, Superior Court Jeffrey Kinder withdrew as a candidate to the federal District Court. Judge Kinder, nominated by President Obama in 2011 with the bipartisan support of Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown, was denied a confirmation hearing for reasons still unknown to the public. Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni, elected as an Independent, was nominated to the same position in September, and still has not had his confirmation hearing scheduled before the Senate Judiciary Committee."
Editorial: Congress now free from the threat of too much work (Evansville Courier Press [IN] , 12/03/13)
"Thanks to Senate Republicans needlessly blocking President Barack Obama's judicial nominees, Senate Democrats changed the rules to allow the nominees' approval by 51 votes instead of 60. Thus, the major legislative trophy the Senate will have for the year end is filling three seats on the D.C. Court of Appeals."