"Senate Eyes Filibuster as Judicial Nominees Await Votes," is by Todd Ruger for the National Law Journal.
The Senate appears to be headed for another partisan fight over key White House nominations, including nominations to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and spots on national regulatory boards.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took the Senate floor Tuesday accusing Democrats of “cooking up phony nomination fights” in an attempt to change filibuster rules and strip the Republicans of the ability to block votes for or against nominees.
That option, dubbed the “nuclear option” because it would so dramatically change the balance of power in the Senate, allows a change in the rules with only 51 votes, instead of the two-thirds vote normally required. Democrats have threatened the move since last year, accusing Republicans of causing gridlock, obstructing qualified candidates and unfairly delaying Obama’s nominees.
The New York Times reports, "Democrats Plan Challenge to G.O.P.’s Filibuster Use," by Jeremy W. Peters.
In a move that could bring to a head six months of smoldering tensions over a Republican blockade of certain presidential nominees, Senate Democrats are preparing to force confirmation votes on a series of President Obama’s most contentious appointments as early as this week.
If Republicans object, Democrats plan to threaten to use the impasse to change the Senate rules that allow the minority party wide latitude to stymie action.
Through the filibuster and other delaying tactics, Republicans have slowed the confirmation process as the president tries to install the team that will carry him through his second term. But Democrats and their majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, now say they have reached the point where they believe that the only way to break the logjam is to escalate the fight.
Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, one of the most outspoken members of his party in calling for new limits on the filibuster, said, “They’ve essentially said they are going to disable the executive branch if a minority of the Senate disagrees with or dislikes the president the people elect.” He added, “It’s come into a realm where it’s just unacceptable because if the executive branch can’t function, then the nation can’t respond to the big challenges it faces.”
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, is so alarmed by the threat of a filibuster rule change that he has gone on the Senate floor nearly every day the chamber is in session for the last month to warn of the consequences.
Earlier coverage of federal judicial nominations and confirmations begins at the link. There's much more on the topic at the Judicial Nominations and Judicial Selection Project websites.