The Wall Street Journal weighs in with an editorial today calling for Senate Republicans to follow through on the previously threatened "nuclear option" to change the Senate rules regarding judicial nominees:
The "nuclear option" is the scary-sounding name for a simple Senate rule change to stop the filibuster of appeals-court nominees. Ending a filibuster requires 60 votes--rather than the simple majority of 51 that was sufficient to confirm judges for all of Senate history until this Presidency. The idea is that if the Democrats filibuster another nominee, Majority Leader Bill Frist would ask for a ruling from the Senate's presiding officer that under Rule XXII only a simple majority vote is needed to end debate on judicial nominations. Assuming 51 Members concur--and GOP nose-counters say they have the votes--the Senate would then move to an up-or-down floor vote.
Changing Senate precedents by majority vote would be nothing new to Mr. Byrd, who used the tactic to change Senate precedents on filibusters and other delaying tactics when he was Majority Leader in 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1987. This history is detailed by Martin Gold and Dimple Gupta in the current issue of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy.
It's time for Senate Republicans to exercise the "Byrd Option". Judicial nominees deserve an up or down vote in the Senate.