Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and women’s rights, civil rights, and other progressive leaders and activists rallied at the Supreme Court today to protest the so-called “nuclear option.” The “nuclear option” would change the rules of the Senate 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.
“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 today. “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.”
In President Bush’s first term in office, only 10 nominees to the appellate courts were blocked by Democratic filibusters – while 204 nominees to the federal courts were confirmed. The Feminist Majority is part of a broad coalition of women’s rights, civil rights, lesbian and gay rights, environmental, labor, and disability rights groups that has been urging Senate Democrats to filibuster right-wing, anti-women’s rights nominees to the federal courts.
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