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Friday, November 22, 2013

Senate Rules for Radicals -- Review & Outlook, The Wall Street Journal

 Democrats break the filibuster in a precedent they may regret.

Today's Democrats have grown up in the Saul Alinsky tradition, and on Thursday they proved it with a partisan vote to break the Senate filibuster rule for confirming judges and executive-branch nominees. The new rules will empower the party's liberals for as long as they control the White House and Senate, but they will also set a precedent for conservatives to exploit in the future.

Majority Leader Harry Reid broke a GOP filibuster of a judicial nominee on a 52-48 vote. He was prodded by the Democratic Senate classes of 2006-2012, younger liberals in a hurry like Al Franken (Minnesota), Jeff Merkley (Oregon) and Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire). These are the same liberals who enjoyed a rare 60-vote supermajority in 2009-2010 when they rammed through ObamaCare without a single Republican vote. They view the minority as an inconvenience to be rolled.

It's true that Senators of both parties have misused the advice and consent power to make it harder for the executive branch to govern. But the great irony is that Democrats voted to end the practice of judicial filibusters that they pioneered when George W. Bush was President. As the minority from 2003-2005, Democrats demanded 60 votes to confirm executive-branch nominees like John Bolton for U.N. Ambassador.

For the first time they also insisted on 60 votes for judicial nominees Miguel Estrada, Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen, Carolyn Kuhl, Henry Saad, William Pryor, David McKeague, Richard Griffin, Charles Pickering and William Gerry Myers. 

Only when Republicans threatened to break the filibuster themselves in 2005 did Democrats agree to allow a vote on some judges. But Mr. Bolton was still blocked, and when Democrats regained the majority in 2007 they began a new filibuster jag to block nominees of all sorts through the end of Mr. Bush's term. Yet now that Republicans are returning the favor, Democrats are up in arms.
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