Another filibuster battle is set up for next week, as the Senate moves closer to deciding whether to go to war over the constitutional, or nuclear, option to stop Republican obstruction of President Obama's executive and judicial nominations. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed for cloture on the nomination of Nina Pillard to sit on the DC Circuit Thursday. The vote is expected to take place next Tuesday evening.
Republicans have pledged to filibuster Pillard, along with Robert Wilkins who will be brought up after Pillard's nomination is voted on. The filibuster of Pillard would mark the third rejection of a very qualified women for the DC Circuit seat (which currently has 8 of its 11 seats filled). On November 1, they filibustered Patricia Millett. For two and a half years Republicans blocked the nomination of the supremely qualified Caitlin Halligan.
Republicans persist in their specious argument that this second most important court in the land doesn't deserve to have its full slate of 11 judges, that eight is plenty. That argument is frustrating more and more Democrats, and bringing Reid to the point of forcing another filibuster confrontation.
"I'm glad that I'm not the only one now talking about this," Reid told reporters, in response to a question from TPM. "We've had the vice president talk about—maybe it's time to do something. And we have someone who has never, ever been out front on rules change, and that's Senator [Patrick] Leahy, who's said that he's very disturbed by what's going on." [...]He's not alone in thinking that. One key senator who has steadfastly resisted the idea of ending the filibuster for judicial nominees, California's Barbara Boxer, is reconsidering her opposition. She's been concerned, rightly, about the nominees a potential Republican president would make to the Supreme Court and what that could mean for reproductive rights. But it's reached the point that Boxer is getting fed up: "I don't want to change the rules, but I am open to it if Republicans keep obstructing."
"When we had this agreement a number of years ago, and we let all those people on the D.C. Circuit—there was an agreement by 14 senators, most of whom are still here, that there would be no filibustering judges except under extraordinary circumstances," said a visibly frustrated Reid. "Patricia Millet—there's nothing—no one has raised a scintilla of evidence about her that she's not qualified or that she's in any way not morally equipped for the job. So, I just think it's a breach of a number of agreements around here."
Without the credible threat of a rules change, Republicans are going to keep obstructing. That's a given.