- Clark Neily, Institute for Justice
Last month, the U.S. Senate changed its procedural rules well into the tenure of a Congress. The rules change concerned the filibuster. Where previously a cloture vote to end debate on all filibusters required 60 votes, cloture votes on a President's Executive Branch and judicial nominees now require only 51 votes. The rules change stipulates that U.S. Supreme Court nominees are not covered by the change.
Did the Senate act contrary to its own rules, procedures, and customs by making this change in the middle of a Congress, instead of at the beginning of a Congressional term? Is the rule change a proper corrective measure in light of the growth of the use of the filibuster over the past 20 years? Or is the change an example of a majority determined to accomplish its ends merely by virtue of its being a majority? Perhaps more importantly, is the rule change here to stay, or might it be reversed in the future? These and other questions were addressed by our experts.
Senator Mike Lee of Utah opened the Federalist Society's 2013 National Lawyers Convention with an address to attendees on Thursday, November 14, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. Senator Lee was introduced by Mr. Leonard A. Leo, Executive Vice President of the Federalist Society.
[Watch or listen now!]
What has caused the increased battles over judicial confirmations? Which nominees have had the most difficult confirmations? Using the largest, most detailed data set on judicial confirmations ever assembled, a new book, Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges off the Bench, shows that it is the smartest/most potentially influential nominees who have had by the far the most difficult time getting confirmed.
On June 20, the ABA sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voicing its concerns about the slow pace of the judicial confirmation process. The ABA is concerned that judicial nominations will come to a halt because of the so-called “Leahy-Thurmond Rule,” in which the Senate stops confirming “long-standing” judicial nominees during a presidential election year. The last circuit-court nominees were confirmed in June during the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns, and in July during the 2000 campaign... [Read more!]