Friday, March 18, 2005

The So-Called "Nuclear Option"

I am so sick of hearing the media talk about the so-called "nuclear option." The whining of the senate democrats have once again swayed the passions of the MSM. The "nuclear option" was exercized by the democrats four years ago when they decided to subvert the power of the president by fillabustering his judicial nominations. Yet this "nuclear option" is not discussed by the MSM.

Let me see if I can explain how this is supposed to work, keeping in mind that I am not a constitutional law expert. The constitution, you know, that piece of paper on which our government is based, clearly describes the powers of the president. One of those powers is to appoint federal judges and supreme court judges. The senate then has the power to either vote them "up," approving the nomination, or "down" rejecting the nominee.

In this case, the president has nominated 10 people to occupy spots as federal judges (this was four years ago by the way). The majority of the senate approves of the nominees, so the senate, if allowed, would confirm these nominees. However, in a move to spite the president, and the senate republicans, the senate democrats have insigated a fillabuster. This is where a member of the senate takes the floor of the senate to debate the nominee (or a bill in other situations) but then refuses to relinquish the floor, meaning that a vote cannot be taken. The senate can over rule the fillabuster, but only with a 2/3eds margin of the senate. The republicans cannot muster 2/3ed majority to over rule the fillabuster, but do have the votes needed to confirm the nominees.

So, for all intents and purposes, the house democrats have stalled any movement that can be made as far as these judge positions are concerned. The so-called nuclear option is that the senate republicans can temporarilly change the rules of order in regard to the fillabuster, but only for judicial nominations, not for other senate business. The new rules would state that after the first vote to end the fillabuster, the senate could call for another vote with a smaller margin, a simple majority, to end it. This would allow for a fillabuster, but if only a small number of democrats are stalling business, the larger body could over ride the minority. This is completely constitutional. The media, however, rather than focus on the last four years of gridlock on these judicial nominations, focus on this attempt by the senate republicans to get some real work done.