Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said this weekend on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he opposes ending the use of the filibuster on judicial nominees. However, he qualified his statement by saying that he will “listen to [Republican] leadership.” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) is a major proponent of the so-called “nuclear option,” which would to prevent filibusters on judicial nominees – including Supreme Court nominees – by requiring only a simple 51-vote majority to close debate and move to a vote on the judges. Present rules require 60 votes to close the debate.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), also appearing on “Face the Nation,” said that the Senate “should not become a rubber stamp for the President.” Reid and women’s rights, civil rights, and other progressive leaders and activists, including the Feminist Majority, rallied at the Supreme Court last week to protest the so-called “nuclear option.” Over one million petitions were delivered to Frist and Reid in opposition to ending the right to filibuster extreme judicial nominees.
“A weak majority in the Senate, together with the President, are trying to not only stack the federal courts with right-wing, anti-women’s rights appointments, but also to silence a minority in the Senate, which actually represents, in state populations, more people than the majority in the Senate,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, who joined Senator Reid in protest. “For women this could be catastrophic, because we stand to lose the gains of the last 40 years, especially our right to reproductive choice and our hard-won protections against sex discrimination.”
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