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Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Former Staffer to Democrats: Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Evan Schultz, a former Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee staffer, opined in the Legal Times this week that because Republicans’ relentless effort to pack the judiciary has “already established a critical mass of conservative judges on the bench,” Democrats shouldn’t shy away from provoking Republicans to use the “nuclear option.” The nuclear option would eliminate the Senate filibuster on judicial nominations, which allows a substantial minority of senators to block a Senate floor vote on a judicial nominee. The nuclear option was taken off the table by the Gang of 14 compromise in May 2005, but it remains to be seen whether the compromise will survive rumored Republican attempts to force floor votes this month on controversial circuit court nominees. Some Republicans think that pressing for votes on these nominees will galvanize the conservative base during the upcoming mid-term elections. Schultz thinks that, since the Democrats have little to gain by selectively blocking a handful of nominees after the president has already successfully appointed so many, the Democrats shouldn’t hesitate to use the filibuster if Republicans choose to push the envelope -- and then, if Republicans go nuclear, reap the benefits if a Democratic president is elected in 2008.

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