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In case you missed it, the Charlotte Observer explained yesterday why it’s time, at long last, to “go nuclear” on the filibuster in the U.S. Senate:

“[Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid told reporters Tuesday that he was once again considering rules reform – which is shorthand for doing away with filibusters on judicial and executive nominations by allowing a simple majority vote for approvals. A senior aide made that “nuclear option” sound even more likely in an interview with the Washington Post, saying that it’s hard to envision Reid not changing the rules.

He should. The filibuster, once a useful tool designed to give the minority party more influence in confirmations and legislation, is now a tactic overused by both parties to strip the president of the appointment powers the Constitution has given him.

Well over 100 of Obama’s executive and judicial nominees – including U.S. Rep. Mel Watt of Charlotte, who was nominated to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency – have seen their nominations stalled because the Senate requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. That means just 40 senators can stop nominees from getting the consideration and yes-or-no vote they deserve….”

Read the rest of the editorial by clicking here.

Mel WattThe next time someone tells you that the problem with D.C. politics is the refusal of President Obama and folks on what passes for the “left” to “compromise” with conservatives, ask them to read this Huffington Post article about the utterly absurd, take-no-prisoners obstructionism confronting a long and growing list of high-quality nominees put forth by the President to fill numerous vacancies on the federal courts and in other important agencies – including the national Housing Finance Agency position for which North Carolina Congressman Mel Watt (pictured at left) was nominated months ago.

 And, of course, it’s just coincidence that so many of the stonewalled nominees are women and people of color.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has filed a “cloture” motion on the filibuster that’s been blocking the nomination of Cornelia “Nina” Pillard to serve on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. This means that the Senate should vote around 5:30 this afternoon.

Unfortunately, conservatives in the Senate continue to adhere to their trasparently dishonest public argument that “the court doesn’t have enough cases to justify filling vacant seats” — an argument that continues to provoke almost universal disdain from a long list of mainstream experts and analysts.

The following, for instance, is from Richard Painter — a corproate law professor who served in the George W. Bush White House — writing for the American Constitution Society: Read More

Richard Burr 2Senator Richard Burr’s one-man, secret filibuster of the nomination of federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker to serve as a U.S. District Court judge in North Carolina’s Eastern District continues. This is from this morning’s Wilmington Star-News:

“Jennifer May-Parker could make history as the first African-American U.S. District Court judge in the 44-county Eastern District of North Carolina and fill a vacancy that is nearly eight years old.

That is, if she can ever make it there.

President Obama appointed May-Parker to the bench in late June. May-Parker is currently chief of the Appellate Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District.

Both Sens. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., must take a procedural step and return a so-called “blue slip” on the nominee prior to her getting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The blue slip is a piece of paper essentially asking the home-state senators if they support moving forward with the process. It is not necessarily an endorsement of the nominee, but requiring the blue slips to be returned is a long held practice of the committee, according to a judiciary committee aide.

Hagan has returned hers, but Burr is holding up the process – something called “blue slipping.”

As for why, well, Burr is not saying.”

As the story goes on to make clear, Read More

Mel WattAt long last, we now know the official conservative litmus test for responding to nominations and other official proposals submitted to congress: “if the President is for something, we’re against it.”

It’s really as simple as that. And heaven help any nominees who happen to be women and/or people of color.

If the true nature of the test wasn’t already long-apparent in the right’s transparently hypocritical opposition to the federal version of Romney/Heritage Care (i.e. the Affordable Care Act), the final, once-and-for-all confirmation came yesterday when Senate Republicans successfully filibustered the nomination of Congressman Mel Watt to serve as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and then followed it up moments later with an equally absurd filibuster of the President’s nomination of a moderate, corporate lawyer named Patricia Millett to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

There was literally no good reason to oppose these nominations Read More