The Great Debate

Filling judicial vacancies to protect the progressive legacy

By Herman Schwartz
January 13, 2014

What could never happen, finally did.

For more than 30 years the Democratic Senate caucus feebly stood by as Republicans seized control of the federal courts. Now, however, faced with a GOP filibuster of nominees for three vacancies on the appeals court that could determine the fate of most of President Barack Obama’s initiatives, the Democrats have at last responded.

The Senate after filibuster reform

By Thomas E. Mann
November 25, 2013

The Washington Post editorial page led the charge in denouncing the change in Senate filibuster rules engineered by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and 51 of his Democratic colleagues last Thursday. Many other media voices quickly followed suit.

Not ‘court-packing,’ GOP’s aim is ‘court-shrinking’

By Jeff Shesol
November 5, 2013

The party that brought you “death panels” and “socialized medicine” has rolled out another term — carefully selected, like the others, for its power to freak people out. “Court-packing” now joins a Republican rogue’s gallery of poll-tested epithets.

Why the U.S. must lead on Disabilities Treaty

By Bill Frist
November 5, 2013

In an HIV clinic in Africa, a man born deaf holds a single sheet of paper with a plus sign. He looks for help, but no one at the clinic speaks sign language. In fact, the staff doesn’t seem interested in helping him at all.

Opposing Obamacare: GOP’s defining issue

By Bill Schneider
October 28, 2013

After the French Revolution, the statesman and diplomat Talleyrand said of the Bourbon kings, “They learned nothing and they forgot nothing.” The same might be said of congressional Republicans after their disastrous government shutdown adventure.

Tea Party zealots hold the public debate hostage

By Robert L. Borosage
October 15, 2013

This year’s contrived budget crisis is headed to its climax, as the date for defaulting on the nation’s debt approaches.

GOP’s path to Senate control is through Louisiana, Alaska

By Grover G. Norquist and Patrick Gleason
September 5, 2013

For Republicans to win control of the Senate next year, top officials in both parties say, all paths to a majority have to go through Alaska and Louisiana. In addition to being crucial in determining Senate control, the Democratic incumbents in these two battleground states share the same political and policy vulnerabilities.

Time for Senate compromise on judicial nominees

By Alicia Bannon
July 26, 2013

All eyes were on the Senate last week as Democrats and Republicans reached an agreement to move forward on confirming certain stalled executive branch nominees. This new spirit of compromise was heralded, but before we begin celebrating, it is worth noting that judges were not part of the deal.

A history (and future) of Congressional polarization

By Howard Rosenthal and Adam Bonica
February 4, 2013

As the 112th Congress came to a close last year, bipartisanship made a rare showing. The U.S. inched its way up to the fiscal cliff, but Congress voted to yank the country back, with 85 House Republicans voting not to reinstate the Bush tax cuts for individuals who earn more than $400,000. It was a rare moment of bipartisanship, however begrudging, for a Congress that has steadily become more polarized in the past 30 years.

Asserting the Senate’s power

By Senator Roy Blunt
January 31, 2013

A three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last week unanimously ruled that President Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he made recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last year.