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.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Law and the Courts, Race and Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. NG says:

    That the GOP has decided to implement the rule change with Brown, a black woman, is likely not a coincidence.

    It should be a coincidence, in an ideal world. I would hate to think otherwise.

  2. Parableman says:

    Nuclear Option: Janice Rogers Brown
    Outside the Beltway notes that Senate Republicans will indeed change filibustering rules for presidential nominations that have made it past a committee vote. They’ve targeted Judge Janice Rogers Brown. Two moral issues are raised by this. First, if R…