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Which Would Be Better? Getting These Judges Confirmed or Getting the Filibuster Rules Reformed?

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Obama and the Democrats have laid the groundwork.

     1) The President has nominated three highly-qualified justices.

     2) They've spread the word that the Republicans in the Senate have delayed confirmation of Obama's judicial nominees WAY more than was the case with such nominations in the past.

     3) They've let it be known that filibuster reform --the nuclear option-- is being contemplated if the Republicans continue their unprecedented obstruction on these judicial appointments.

The Republicans have obliged by once again demonstrating their grotesque disrespect for clear or truthful speech by denouncing the President's batch of appointments as "packing" the court, even though these are to fill actual vacancies on the bench and have absolutely nothing to do with court-packing (as when FDR sought in 1937 to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court).

We'll see how this plays out. But how should we hope it plays out?
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I'm wondering:  Is getting the judges onto the bench worth more than getting the filibuster rules reformed?

For now, in terms of immediate practical results, any new rules to prevent the continued abuse of the filibuster need only deal with nominations. That's because so long as the GOP controls the House, it doesn't matter much what the Senate passes, since legislation will die in the House anyway. But regarding the confirmation of nominations, the House has no say.

If we're going to modify the filibuster rules, however, I'd say it might as well be done right, and deal with the whole range of measures, as many Democratic Senators were ready to do last January.  Even if a new Senate in 2015 revisits the rules, it would be good for inertia to favor rules that are not so easily abused as the Republicans have demonstrated the present ones can be. 

Either way, the Democrats are fighting back, and should win some territory-- either on the bench or in the rules of the Senate. That --the Democrats' fighting back-- in itself is a change I can believe in.
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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
 

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