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."
Juan Williams: Sen. Jeff Merkley is the man of the year in Congress (The Hill, 12/09/13)
Juan Williams column: "Merkley, with a big assist from Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), won the biggest vote of the year on Capitol Hill ... The two first-term senators successfully argued to the Democratic caucus that the GOP’s use of more than a quarter of the filibusters in history against President Obama’s nominees was one of the root causes of today’s dysfunctional Congress.... Merkley and Udall also made the case that resentment caused by the GOP’s frequent use of “holds” and filibusters polarized the Senate and led to the failure to deal with major issues ... That vote opens the door to a newly active Senate and a rush of votes on judicial nominations and agency heads.... there are 52 judicial nominations awaiting Senate action, including 17 who simply need to get a vote. The GOP recently blocked all three Obama nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia without any regard to their qualifications. They claimed any nominee from the Obama White House tilted the court and its power to rule on federal agency regulations to the left."
Midlands Voices: U.S. Senate rule change is constitutional (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 12/09/13)
Ernie Chambers, of Omaha, is a Nebraska state senator: "Attempting to make his case that modification by the Senate of its filibuster rule is a spectacular “breakdown of constitutional norms,” Krauthammer fashioned one of the most bunglesome, inconsistent, inaccurate pieces of political claptrap I’ve encountered since I can’t remember when. He wrote: “The violence to constitutional norms here consisted in how the change was executed. By brute force — a near party-line vote of 52-48.” Such a vote is neither “brute force,” unusual nor prohibited by the Constitution. A minimally competent political commentator knows that."
The 'nuclear option' is long overdue (Free Lance-Star [VA] , 12/09/13)
David Nelson letter to the editor: "The Constitution states "Advice and Consent." It does not say block, redirect, hold up and try to impose the will of the Senate minority party on the nominations and actions of this or any other president. And so Democrats have finally had enough with a Republican Party that seems determined to pitch a temper tantrum about everything the president and Democrats try to accomplish."
Letter: Spreading lies about filibuster (INFORUM [ND], 12/08/13)
Scott Wardzinski: "In response to Austin Noyes’ Dec. 2 letter titled “Filibuster vote should send chills down spine,” he does a good job spreading what many could take as lies. The first, and the biggest, being that the filibuster is in the U.S. Constitution. This is a flat-out lie....This will allow the positions that have sat vacant for most, if not all, of President Barack Obama’s term as president to finally be filled.
Perhaps if Republicans in the past five years did not almost double the number of filibustered presidential appointees since the founding of the United States and tried to govern rather than obstruct, then the Democrats would not have to use the powers they are legally granted in the U.S. Constitution to change the rules of the Senate."
Senate’s filibuster rule change (Denver Post [CO] , 12/08/13)
Mark P. Simmons: "Senate Republicans have blocked many nominations, regardless of whether they thought the candidate was qualified and able to serve. By abusing the filibuster rules, they forced this change on themselves. The only solution remaining was to get back to the basic concept of majority rules."
Peter Goodman: Setting the record straight on Senate filibuster (Las Cruces Sun-News [NM], 12/08/13)
"The filibuster is not in the U.S. Constitution.... The rules on filibusters have changed before.... Filibusters of judicial or executive branch presidential appointments were even rarer than other filibusters. Such filibusters have occurred something like 182 times in our history, and just more than half that total (92) were Republican filibusters during the Obama administration.... (They had even announced this year that they would filibuster any Obama nominee to the [D.C.] Circuit Court of Appeal. One prominent senator even apologized to a nominee, telling him it wasn't about the nominee.)"
Krebs column: It'll be more of the same partisan politics next year (St. Cloud Times [MN], 12/07/13)
St. Cloud Times Opinion Page editor Randy Krebs: "PolitiFact reports that in 237 years of presidents making nominations, there have been 147 Senate cloture motions. (These require a supermajority vote to end debate and take a vote.) Of those, 79, more than half, have occurred in Barack Obama’s presidency. Similarly, in the past 45 years of nine different presidents nominating judges, there have have been 67 such motions. Thirty-one of those have come since Obama took office in 2009. And in a tacit admission those numbers are pure partisan politics, leading Republicans seldom, if ever, contend the reasons to avoid approving the nominees is they are not qualified. As expected, Republicans expressed outrage at such a purely partisan parliamentary maneuver, but they never said they would undo the move if and when they win the Senate majority."
Commentary: Murkowski flips on the filibuster (KCAW radio [AK], 12/07/13)
Keith Nyitray: "Sen. Lisa Murkowski issued a statement that the recent change in the senate filibuster rules was “a power grab, plain and simple.” She then went on to say how it saddened her and how the Senate was designed to “guard the views and voices of the minority” and the Democrats had “shattered” that guardianship.
It’s interesting how time affects some people’s memories. I guess she’s forgotten that in May 2005 she made a speech that was also posted as an editorial where she said: “Let me make it clear that I support an up-or-down vote on all nominations brought to the Senate floor, regardless of the president nominating them or which party controls the Senate. These nominees deserve to be considered based on their merits. Under the “advice and consent” process, every senator has the right to vote against a nominee if he/she does not believe the nominee is qualified for the position, but it is not fair to the nominees to have their lives placed on hold, sometimes in excess of two years. Nor is it right to perpetuate the many vacancies in our courts, particularly when we are seeing the caseload exceed the capacity of the sitting judges.” (Juneau Empire, 5/9/05)
I guess she’s also forgot that in September of 2010 she told the Juneau Bar Association that “the Senate rules should be changed to allow the names of judicial nominees to more quickly be moved to a vote” and that the legislative branch is to a degree holding the judiciary hostage.” (Fairbanks Daily News Miner, 9/24/10) And in December of 2011 “I stated during the Bush Administration that judicial nominations deserved an up or down vote, except in ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and my position has not changed simply because there is a different president making the nominations.” (12/06/11 Sen. Murkowski’s press release)"
Diplomacy has won over war-mongering (Watertown Daily Times [NY], 12/07/13)
Maire T. Zakrzewski: "the Senate finally changed its rules of the filibuster, the infamous tactic used in outrageous excess during the presidency of Obama. This tactic was not part of the Constitution, and it had been modified in the 1970s and was used sparingly until now. The Republicans had openly declared that they will do everything to prevent President Obama’s success, and one of their tools has been the filibuster. Now the new order of simple majority, instead of the 60 vote super-majority, will allow the essential administrative appointments being confirmed and the enormous backlog of judicial appointments to go through."
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."
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."
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."
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!"
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."
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."
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."
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"
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."
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."
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."