Going Nuclear on Judge Janice Rogers Brown
Robert Novak reports,
Senate Republican leaders have decided to begin their use of the “nuclear option” — forcing confirmation of President Bush’s judicial nominations with a majority Senate vote — on an African-American woman blocked by Democrats from a federal judgeship.
Associate Justice Janice Rogers Brown of the California Supreme Court was one of 16 Bush nominees for U.S. appellate courts whose confirmation was prevented by Democratic filibusters in the last Congress. With Republicans still short of the 60 senators needed to limit debate, the nuclear option will seek to confirm judges with a simple majority vote through parliamentary maneuvers.
Republican leaders considered waiting to use drastic tactics against a possible filibuster until Bush made his first Supreme Court nomination. They decided, however, to launch the offensive about a month from now by trying to confirm Brown.
If the Senate is going to change its rules to preclude filibustering judicial nominees–and it should–then it makes sense to do it sooner rather than later. I paid scant attention to the Brown hearings the first time, so have no opinion on her suitability for the appellate bench. But all nominees who make it out of committee deserve an up-or-down vote.
That the GOP has decided to implement the rule change with Brown, a black woman, is likely not a coincidence.