Time For the Nuclear Option on Judges?

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For the third time in a month, Senate Republicans have blocked the nomination of a judge to fill an open vacancy on the DC Circuit Court:

By a vote of 53 to 38, the Senate failed to break a filibuster of Robert L. Wilkins, a federal judge who was nominated to fill one of three vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit….The impasse over Mr. Wilkins followed Republican blockades of two other candidates for the court since Oct. 31. Unlike previous fights over judicial nominees, the dispute is not as much about the judges’ individual political leanings….Rather, Republicans are seeking to prevent Mr. Obama from filling any of the three existing vacancies on the 11-seat court, fearing that he will alter its conservative tilt.

….Republicans are on the verge of exhausting the last bit of tolerance Democrats have shown for such regular use of the filibuster on nominations. Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the Senate’s longest-serving current member, who has fought to safeguard the institution’s traditions, said Monday that momentum was building toward a rules change — a move so controversial that it is referred to as the nuclear option.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Mr. Leahy said.

Leahy has been a pretty straight shooter on judicial nominations, honoring Republican holds and defending traditional Senate prerogatives. If he’s finally losing patience, it’s possible that Democrats are finally ready to eliminate the filibuster on judicial nominees. Here’s hoping.

(And while they’re at it, how about eliminating the filibuster on executive branch nominees too? That’s even less defensible.)

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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