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What’s the Lasting Impact of the Senate’s Filibuster Change?

by Countable | 4.6.17

The United States Senate just changed in an instant. In response to a Democratic filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, Republicans deployed the so-called nuclear option, which drops the threshold for filling vacancies on the high court from 60 to a simple majority of 51. The move is expected to have far reaching consequences, and some lawmakers predict you’ll see an immediate impact on U.S. elections.

"It means that judges in the future will probably be more ideological because without having to reach across the aisle, you will have a more ideological pick," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Countable. “I think it will make every Senate seat even more important and future Senate campaigns are going to be more referendums on the court than they’ve ever been because every seat matters. If you don’t have to get 6o votes, then the simple majority gives the ability to control the courts so every Senate seat is going to have that component to it now.”

The rule change for Supreme Court nominees comes after Democrats lowered the voting threshold for federal judges in 2013. They now fear the hyper-partisan atmosphere will lead to attempts to lower the threshold for basic legislation, which would turn the slow moving Senate the founders envisioned into something more like the quick paced, majority-ruled House. While Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is vowing never to do that, Democrats are now hoping to start a dialogue to get rid of some of the bad blood.

"At some point we have to decide if we want to be the Senate or the House of Representatives, and hopefully after today we can all sit down together and decide if we’re going to maintain any of the Senate’s normal prerogatives," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told Countable.

Sen Susan Collins (R-ME) tried to spearhead a bipartisan letter asking to avert the nuclear option. While that effort never materialized, she says she’s not giving up trying to forge bipartisan compromises in the upper chamber. "I’m hoping we can get back on track," Collins told Countable. “I am worried that our attempts to negotiate a compromise failed, because there’s such a profound lack of trust. And I think that’s what many of us are trying to rebuild.”

Contact your senators and tell them what you think about changes to the Senate’s voting rules.

-- Matt Laslo

(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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  • D
    04/06/2017
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    Vote them out 2018 every congressional seat and 33 senate are up for grabs republicans are party before country, VOTE THEM OUT

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  • SouthernGal
    04/06/2017
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    Shame on you. Gorsuch is the wrong person for the Supreme Court. Trump shouldn't have a pick while he & his administration are under investigation.

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  • Sheryl
    04/06/2017
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    Shame on all those that supported the nuclear option. You DO NOT represent the best interests of this Country and we will remember this at the polls.

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  • Sonya
    04/06/2017
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    The GOP is ruining our country to push their nominee, after refusing to even have hearings on Garland. A pox upon them .

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  • Sylvia
    04/06/2017
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    I'm so utterly disgusted by this move! EVERY time republicans are in the minority they whine and cry and bitch and moan about the "rules of the senate" being "sacred" and deserving respect. Then AS SOON as they have a majority, they change the rules to their advantage to the detriment of bi-partisanship and democracy. Shame on all who voted for this!!!! The voters will remember.

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  • Emma
    04/06/2017
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    This is a mistake. It ruins the idea of democracy we hold so highly and brings forward autocratic rule. It's a matter of time before the Republicans implode.

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  • Alexander
    04/06/2017
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    This leads down a very dangerous path. While McConnell might vow to never change the rules, he and the republicans cannot be trusted to keep their word. We need to fight tooth and nail to ensure the senate never operate as the house does, with a simple majority vote. This is an extremely reckless and dangerous precedent.

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  • Stephanie
    04/06/2017
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    The lasting damage done to our democracy by those senators who voted to change the rules to a simple majority is unprecedented. The Supreme Court now just becomes a political pawn rather than a check and balance for our political system. Gone are the days of moderate judges who had to appeal to a broad spectrum of political ideologies. Now the Supreme Court becomes an ideologically radical entity whose ideological leaning - far right or far left - is simply based on the luck of the draw - depending only on whether democrats or republicans happen to control the senate when a seat opens up. This is toxic for our democracy and there are no words to explain my disgust and dismay with the republicans right now. Does Canada or Norway take American refugees?

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  • Dennise
    04/06/2017
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    Mitch McConnell had the opportunity to become a great statesman, but with one move, the footnote to his name will always be the stupidest moment in US Senate history. Shame on you! You have truly disappointed the American people.

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  • Ealena
    04/06/2017
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    This changing of the rules is a disaster! Why do we have rules if the loser can break them to become the winner? I am disgusted. This is a sad period in American history. This move is horrible for the future of our democracy. And for Gorsuch? A man who's presence on the Supreme Court will only prove harmful to this country? After these same people refused to even give Obama's nominee a hearing? This kind of behavior is deplorable, juvenile and undemocratic. As an American citizen, I feel completely disrespected. These public servants don't care about what the public wants. They are only there to serve their own egos. A president can win an election without winning a simple majority of votes. If that were the case, we would have a different president right now. But that's all you need to get on the Supreme Court - a lifetime position?!?! This is beyond ridiculous. I am thoroughly disappointed and saddened.

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  • Kirsten
    04/06/2017
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    This is a sad day for our country.

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  • Jay
    04/06/2017
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    Shame on the Senate!

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  • Beth
    04/06/2017
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    The GOP just annihilated democracy. The war is on. If our country is still here, 2018 is the year we will take back our country.

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  • JuniperHelms
    04/06/2017
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    I love how Republicans act as if they did all they could to reach a compromise with Democrats, but couldn't be bothered to change the nominee. Phonies, the lot of them.

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  • Sharon
    04/06/2017
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    This is s reckless and dangerous precedent, and ruins the idea of democracy and the rule of the people.

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  • Karena
    04/06/2017
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    Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, liberal or conservative, everyone should see that this should not be a partisan issue. No matter what house is in control, this move has set a dangerous precedent and has broken down barriers that the founding fathers carefully constructed in the form of checks and balances. What is more important? The confirmation of a judge or the maintenance of a democratic and accountable government?

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  • DannybAZ
    04/06/2017
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    With the 51 simple vote now you must vote no on Gorsuch. He refused to answer questions in his hearing which would have revealed his temperament and judgement as a valid Supreme Court justice. There is also the BIG question of $10 million dark money invested in his appointment.

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  • FredM
    04/06/2017
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    The problem with this country today ... regardless of party ... is that we no longer haves statesmen running our government. All we have is arrogant, unethical, self-serving politicians.

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  • Lon
    04/06/2017
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    When you can't win, you just change the rules? Bullshit Vote them out, we have a sorry ass President who doesn't follow the rules and now our legislature. Their is not America anymore!

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  • Phillip
    04/06/2017
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    What an absolute disgrace. You are playing games with the highest court in the land and thereby diminishing one of the three branches of governments power to hold the others accountable. There was no way this should have even been considered till after all the investigations were final. You have all forgotten who you work for. Thus is one step closer to a dictatorship and I fear it will dawn on people once the damage is done

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