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Thursday, January 24, 2013

AFJ Responds to agreement on Senate rules reform

WASHINGTON, D.C.,  January 24, 2013 — Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron issued the following statement on today’s agreement concerning reforming the rules of the United States Senate:

Today’s agreement to enact incremental reforms to Senate rules, while containing some provisions that may prove to be of significant value in mitigating the calamitous mistreatment of judicial nominations, does not go as far as we would like in the direction of meaningful change on the broader issues confronting our country.

While we are particularly happy to see long-overdue changes to the rules governing filibusters of district court nominees, we remain disappointed that circuit court nominations remain subject to the kind of destructive obstruction that has characterized President Obama’s first term. Limiting post-cloture debate to two hours serves as an implicit acknowledgement of the unprecedented degree to which Republicans have inappropriately used procedural weapons to delay and derail these important nominations. This agreement holds out hope that some degree of comity may now return to the Senate for district court nominees, but at the same time we urge Senate leaders to use every tool at their disposal to prevent the widespread obstruction of circuit court nominees that has characterized the past four years.

Although we had hoped for a more robust package, we are encouraged by the spirit of reform and activism led by Sens. Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall, and Tom Harkin, carried forward by dozens of organizations, and given voice by hundreds of thousands of Americans, hungry for progress, who contacted their senators to demand change. The American people deserve a Senate that is willing and able to tackle the great issues that confront the nation, and we will watch diligently in the days ahead to see whether today’s agreement is sufficient to ensure that is the case.

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