the nuclear option and a tool to stop it

In Bush’s first term, Democrats blocked just 10 of his 229 judicial nominees (which I believe makes his average quite a bit better than Clinton’s). In spite of this, however, the Republicans have gone to the American people suggesting that the Democrats are “obstructionists.” And now, the Republicans are suggesting that they might have no choice but to deploy what they’re calling “the nuclear option,” against them. The nuclear option is essentially a parliamentary maneuver that would put an end to the minority party’s right to challenge and draw attention to controversial candidates by means of filibuster, something that they’ve had the right to do for over 200 years. (If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of the filibuster, go out and rent the Jimmy Stewart film, “Mister Smith goes to Washington,” this weekend.)

Here’s a blurb from MoveOn that explains the situation a little more clearly:

Radical Republicans are reaching for absolute power to appoint Supreme Court justices who favor corporate and extreme-right interests over the rest of us–and we only have a few weeks to stop them.

To do it, Dick Cheney is threatening to use what he calls the “nuclear option”–a parliamentary maneuver to overturn the 200-year-old right to filibuster judicial nominations. A filibuster is the right of 41 or more concerned senators to extend debate and delay controversial votes. If Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist can twist enough arms to get 51 votes in support of Cheney’s ruling, the minority party will be completely silenced for the first time in American history.

The good news is, the folks at MoveOn have initiated a letter writing campaign directed at the newspapers of America. And, they’ve created an incredibly cool tool that will help you select and contact newspapers in your area. Not only that, but it will show you the circulation for each paper, and how many other people have sent letters to them through the system already… If you have a few minutes this weekend, give it a shot. It really is the coolest political action tool I’ve seen since the election.

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