Last Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) condemned Republicans for blocking Nina Pillard’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Warren said, “The powerful interests that work to rig the Supreme Court also want to rig the lower courts. In the next five years, the D.C. Circuit will decide some of the most important cases of our time, including cases that will decide whether Wall Street reform will have real bite or whether it will just be toothless.”
She continued, “Republicans may not like Wall Street reform. They may not like Obamacare. But Congress passed those laws. President Obama signed those laws. President Obama ran for reelection on those laws, while his opponent pledged to repeal them — and his opponent lost by nearly five million votes. It is not up to judges to overturn those laws or their associated regulations just because they don’t fit those judges’ policy preferences.”
Well yesterday, in a 52-to-48 vote the Senate changed the filibuster rule on executive and judicial appointments. Now if a senator attempts to filibuster a presidential nominee, it can be halted with a simple majority instead of the previous 60-vote requirement. Nominees can now be confirmed or not by a simple majority vote.
After the vote, President Obama noted that in the past 60 years before he was elected that filibusters had been used to challenge only 20 presidential nominees. President Obama said, “But in just under five years since I took office, nearly 30 nominees have been treated this way.”
No doubt it is difficult for a president to get consensus on the critical issues of the day but when a president is challenged on nearly every issue and nearly every nominee, the democratic principles we all hold dear are stunted and held hostage. The public has grown tired of the Republicans’ unprecedented vindictiveness and their efforts have been counterproductive to moving this country forward. Let’s hope changing the filibuster rule is a step toward conciliation and progress but rumor has it there is little chance of that.