Filibuster Deal Restricts Senators’ Rights to Debate Judicial Nominees
This afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced a potential filibuster deal that, among other problematic provisions, limits post-cloture debate on federal district court nominees (and non-Cabinet-level officials).
Senators currently have up to 30 hours of post-cloture debate on the merits of a district court nominee; the new rule would permit only two hours. This proposal would seriously undermine the rights of sitting senators to call attention to problematic district court nominees and, as a consequence, would enable the President to make more philosophically questionable and professionally unqualified nominations in the future.
Providing advice and consent to judicial nominees are critical, constitutionally-enumerated responsibilities of U.S. senators. Those confirmed to a federal judgeship retain their job during “good behavior” (virtually for life), and can only be removed by House impeachment and Senate conviction with a 2/3 vote. If the merits of a cabinet secretary are worthy of 30-hours of debate, then any judge appointed for life should be also.