Why is Harry Reid’s “Nuclear Option” a very, very, big, big deal?

| November 30 2013

By Foster Friess

The Senate Majority Leader has annihilated the U.S. Senate’s famed regard for minority rights, destroying one of the checks and balances remaining in the way of President Obama’s agenda.

From now on, all it takes is 50 votes—instead of a bipartisan supermajority of 60—to approve President Obama’s judicial and executive branch appointments.

This is particularly relevant because the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which some consider the second most important court in the nation after the Supreme Court, will wind up with judges who will be radically sympathetic to President Obama’s expansion of power. The court, which currently is evenly split between the parties, has three vacancies, which President Obama can now easily fill with whomever he wishes.

The timing is perfect: The D.C. Circuit will likely soon hear challenges to Obamacare and many other aspects of the administration’s regulatory regime.

In 2005, when some Republicans unwisely—and unsuccessfully—thought about getting rid of the requirement to have a 60 super-majority, which is often called a filibuster, Sen. Reid said:

“The filibuster is a critical tool in keeping the majority in check. This central fact has been acknowledged and even praised by senators from both parties.” Now, Sen. Reid dispenses with a tool he once deemed so fundamental to liberty.

When Hillary Clinton served as senator from New York, she defended the principle that a super-majority of senators should approve of presidential nominees:

“You have to restrain yourself … and if you can’t get 60 votes for a nominee maybe you should think about who you are sending to us to get confirmed,” she proclaimed.

According to the Senate’s own website, George Washington told Thomas Jefferson how, just as you “pour your hot tea into your saucer to cool it,” the hot tea of democracy is supposed to be poured into the “Senatorial saucer” for the cooling of radical passions. The super-majority principle was a key aspect of this cooling.

But, today, President Barack Obama, Sen. Harry Reid, and “Progressives” generally harness the media to “megaphone” their skillful word-smithing so that the concept of requiring a super-majority is morphed to mean “gridlock.” A Reuters headline, for example, says, “Democrats Ditch Historic Rule Blamed for Gridlock.” Republicans will never win this public relations war until they stop calling sashimi and sushi “cold, dead fish.”

Even some Democrats disapproved. “Senator Reid’s action could permanently damage the Senate … This institution was designed to protect—not stamp out—the voices of the minority,” one said.

Will the American people send a clear Election Year 2014 signal to Washington that we still like checks and balances—and liberty?

In this one page article, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich argues that Sen. Reid is bringing about the “death of the Senate.”