Yesterday, in an editorial entitled “Nuke it Already” the LA Times argues in favor of the nuclear option:
The filibuster, an arcane if venerable parliamentary tactic that empowers a minority of 41 senators to block a vote, goes above and beyond those checks on majority power legitimately written into the Constitution. The filibuster is an inherently reactionary instrument most famously used to block civil rights legislation for a generation.
Here’s the problem. The nuclear option doesn’t do anything to solve the issues the LA Times identified. After the nuclear option, reactionary Senators will still be able to filibuster progressive legislation, like the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Further, there is no indication that the nuclear option would lead to the total elimination of the filibuster. In fact, Majority Leader Frist and others leading the charge to detonate the nuclear option have specifically promised that filibuster ban will not extend to legislation. Here’s a statement by Frist on April 19:
[S]ome have claimed that any effort to restore precedent for up or down votes on judicial nominees would affect the rights of Senators when it comes to legislation…I will not act in any way to impact the rights of colleagues when it comes to legislation.
So let’s not kid ourselves: the nuclear option is not a step towards ensuring progressive legislation will clear the Senate. It is a partisan power play to pack the courts with reactionary judges.