Saturday, January 24, 2015

ending the filibuster for the Supreme Court

When Harry Reid et. al. nuked the filibuster for judicial nominees, they exempted nominees to the Supreme Court. That is, under current rules, Supreme Court nominees can still be filibustered even as nominees to every other federal court cannot be. At the time, the exemption was explained because, the explainer explained, no one would ever actually filibuster a Supreme Court nominee, so nuking that filibuster was not necessary. Which was completely absurd. If no one would ever try it, then why create an exemption to allow them to do it?

It's also simply wrong. There's absolutely no reason to believe that the minority party would not filibuster a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. Imagine, for example, if Justice Scalia suddenly died and Obama appointed some well known liberal to replace him. Do you really believe that Mitch McConnell would not use the filibuster to stop the nomination out of respect for some alleged tradition? I don't think there's any question that in any high-stakes SCOTUS nominee--where the justice to be replaced is different from the ideology of the president, guaranteeing that the nominee would change the current ideological slant of the court--the minority party would be willing to filibuster.

So the Supreme Court exception to the current no-filibuster rule makes no sense. But this also makes no sense. Why would the Republicans take the Supreme Court filibuster off the table now? Are they really so confident that they will regain the presidency in 2016? Have they looked at the electoral map recently? And are they really willing to bet that none of the five justices in the current conservative majority won't die or become incapacitated during Obama's remaining two years in office? That's insane. I can't believe they will really get rid of the Supreme Court filibuster for at least the next two years.