The nuclear option

And so it approaches a vote. The US Senate is to consider abolishing the filibuster of judicial nominations. Each judge nominated by the President will get a simple up or down vote in the Senate and will either be approved or not. Both sides claim that the other is trying to change Senate traditions, and neither is precisely right. There were occasional filibusters of judicial nominees before George W Bush became President, but it only became a matter of routine within the past few years. True, both Clinton and Reagan had more of their nominees blocked, but these were blocked either on a vote in committee or a vote on the Senate floor. None were denied a vote. But the claim by Democrat leader Harry Reid that changing the rules on filibusters undoes 217 years of tradition is a flat lie. The current rules are little more than 40 years old. They were changed to stop Democrats from filibustering civil rights legislation. The claim veteran Senator Robert Byrd that the filibuster protects minority rights is particularly sickening, as he was one of the Democrats who filibustered civil rights legislation. True, white racists like Byrd are a minority, but the term "minority rights" is normally associated with ethnic minorities rather than the Ku Klux Klan. (I should stress, that though Byrd is still a racist, he claims he is no longer a member of the Klan). Furthermore when Byrd was Majority Leader in the Senate (in the 1970s) he tried to abolish the filibuster altogether. If you are wondering how influential Senator Klansman is among Democrats, he was last the Party's Senate Leader in the mid 1980s. He last held a leadership position in the Senate (the largely honorific President Pro Tempore) last time the Democrats had a majority - in 2002.

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