Senate Republicans signaled Thursday that they would rather keep a key federal appeals court seat empty than fill it with a moderate Obama nominee, even if it means Democrats resort to the nuclear option.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the senior-most member of the Senate, has a warning for his Republican colleagues -- either they back off their efforts to maintain Republican control over a powerful federal court, or they could lose their ability to filibuster judicial nominees forever.
Control of the second most powerful court in the country hinges upon what the Senate does in the coming weeks. The court is likely to remain staunchly Republican unless Democrats rally behind the nuclear option.
The Senate, with its rules that give an unusual amount of power to the minority, simply wasn't designed for the kind of swift action that needs to occur this week in order to prevent a government shutdown.