The Norman Transcript

Columns

November 24, 2013

Nuclear is better

NORMAN — After years of dithering, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Nov 21 finally triggered the so-called nuclear option and pushed through a change of rules that will allow the vast majority of presidential nominations to be confirmed if they are supported by a simple majority. The filibuster has been busted — and a good thing too.

The inside-the-Beltway question about Thursday’s “explosion” is whether the Republicans had it coming. They did. After Reid drew back from the nuclear option in July in exchange for Republican acquiescence in the confirmation of some executive branch nominees, the GOP leadership decided to filibuster three more of President Obama’s nominees, this time to the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Republicans feared, not irrationally, that the Obama appointments would tilt the court leftward.

Unable to quarrel with the nominees’ stellar credentials, Republicans opposed them on the pretext that the D.C. Circuit was underworked and didn’t need more judges. One by one, Obama’s choices were denied the 60 votes needed for their nominations to proceed. That was too much for Reid. So on Thursday, he dusted off the nuclear option. Henceforth senators won’t be able to filibuster presidential nominees, with the exception of candidates for the Supreme Court.

We welcome this action not because it represents a comeuppance for arrogant Republicans but because filibustering presidential nominees is undemocratic and violates the spirit if not the letter of the Constitution, which says that the president shall appoint judges and other officials “by and with the advice and consent of the Senate” — not by and with a supermajority of the Senate. This isn’t a new position for this page. We advocated the nuclear option in 2005, when Republicans were threatening to “go nuclear” to stymie Democratic filibusters of judges nominated by President George W. Bush.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Congress should close gaps

    Of all of Edward Snowden’s revelations about electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the most unsettling was that the government was accumulating vast numbers of records about the telephone calls of American citizens. In ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Border obsession overlooks trade

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry made headlines recently by ordering 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. This bravado comes at a price: $12 million a month. Perry plans to send the bill the federal government. That’s one way to finance your ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Intercession badly needed in this world

    Yesterday was my feast day, or as the Italians call it, my “onomastico.” Since I live in the United States, it went completely unnoticed. If I lived in Italy, however, I would have been showered with cards and phone calls. That’s because ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Porch leap looked muchbigger as a kid

    It’s no secret that porch designs have changed over the years. Drive through new Norman developments and look at the porches. Most only have room for a potted plant and a spot to drop those UPS packages, no place for a porch swing or ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Keeping the war buried

    International outrage over the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane over Ukraine on July 17 does not appear to have affected either the actions of pro-Russia forces in that country or the material support Russia is offering the rebels. ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Gaza’s victims: civilians and peace

    After more than two weeks of fighting between Hamas and Israel, there is no question which side has the upper hand. Thursday’s strike on a U.N.-run school for Palestinian children increased the Palestinian death toll to more than 760. By ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014