With the November election coming up, Senate Democratic leaders are fighting their Republican counterparts to get up-or-down votes on high-level court nominees.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (photo) filed a procedural motion on Thursday to get an up-or-down vote on Magistrate Judge Robert Bacharach to the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, says Politico. If Reid garners 60 votes on Monday, it would prevent a filibuster that could stall Bacharach’s nomination.
Bacharach is considered by many to be a noncontroversial nominee after receiving strong support from Republican Sens. Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, and clearing the Senate Judiciary Committee without difficulty. Yet Senate Republicans have invoked an informal custom that has the Senate cease voting on high-level judicial nominees during the second half of a presidential election year (see Gavel Grab).
The application of this custom, known as the “Thurmond Rule,” has been criticized by Democrats who say it unfairly blocks judicial nominees who have bipartisan support. Republicans claim they are being consistent with past practices, including those of Democrats who stalled a Republican president’s nominations, explains Politico.
In order for the vote to succeed, Reid needs support from Republicans, says an Oklahoman article. There are currently 51 Democratic senators, and two independents who often vote with those Democrats.
The seat on the 10th Circuit that Bacharach would fill has been vacant for two years. The upcoming vote will likely affect progress on other judicial nominees who are awaiting consideration by the Senate. A Blog of Legal Times post says that if Reid successfully overcomes the filibuster with enough Republican support, it could help other noncontroversial nominees move closer to a confirmation vote.
Tags: Harry Reid