With nothing to lose as Republicans prepare to take over the Senate on January 2, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a “lovely parting gift” for the American people – the Senate confirmation of up to 88 new federal judges nominated by President Barack Obama.
First, some background.
The Senate rule governing confirmation of presidential nominee once required a super majority of 60 votes on a procedural vote (Cloture) to end debate on the nomination.
If the nomination cleared this hurdle, the matter would go to the floor for a final vote of a simple majority for confirmation – at least under the old rules that governed judicial confirmations since the beginning of the 20th Century.
In November of 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scraped the super majority 60- vote cloture rule because, he complained, Republicans were using it to slow or even stop dozens of President Barack Obama’s nominees from confirmation.
This was especially true for nominees to the federal bench – lifetime appointments – and a tactic that Senate Democrats used to slow or stop the confirmation of nominees made by Republican Presidents for more than a century.
Fast forward to today and the “scorched earth” strategy he is using to cement President Obama’s legacy on the Judicial Branch.
With the supermajority cloture rule gone and just days remaining until the Senate changes hands, Majority Leader Reid – backed up by 8 lame duck senate democrats – is pushing as many as 100 presidential nominations through to confirmation as possible – including 88 nominees for the federal bench.
This is enormously significant for the Democratic Party that regards the separation of powers with such contempt.
Right now, we have:
- A president who has pushed the envelope of executive power beyond the breaking point with moves such as “executive action” on amnesty, changes to the ObamaCare law and the selective enforcement of laws by the Justice Department,
- A Senate majority that decided to break the rules rather than obey them to get their way; And,
- A federal judiciary filled with activist judges – including four currently serving on the United States Supreme Court – that sign orders and issue decrees that void state laws on issues like immigration and ballot questions like gay marriage voted down by lopsided majorities in the states.
We will forward updates as 2015 unfolds.