filibuster update

This update on the filibuster situation in DC comes by way of MoveOn Pac. As I thought that it did a good job of summing things up, I decided to post it in its entirety.

This is it — they’ve pulled the trigger.

On Tuesday May 24th, the Senate will vote on a motion to end debate on judicial nominations, and when that motion fails Senator Bill Frist will launch the “nuclear option” — an unprecedented parliamentary maneuver to break the rules of the Senate and seize absolute control over lifetime appointments to the highest courts in the land. The vote is going to be incredibly close, and there are as many as 6 votes still up in the air — more than enough to win. We must act now.

We’ve launched an emergency petition and, starting Monday, we’ll deliver your signatures and comments to the Senate floor every three hours until the vote is complete. As the debate rages on, Senators fighting to preserve our independent courts will read your statements from the floor of congress. And every senator, every 3 hours, will receive thousands of pages from their constituents demanding that they stand up and do the right thing.

We have less than 72 hours to win this vote and save our courts. Please sign today.

If you care about the minimum wage — and you don’t want judges ruling it unconstitutional — now’s the time to act.

If you care about environmental laws — and you don’t want judges striking them down — now’s the time to act.

If you care about your right to privacy — and you don’t want the government telling your family how to live, worship, or even how to die — now’s the time to act.

As the fight escalates in Congress, thousands of MoveOn members will gather outside of Senate offices and courthouses in every state in the country, staging round the clock “Citizens’ Filibusters to Stop the Right Wing Power Grab.” We’ll also deliver your comments to all the gatherings in your state, so your words will combine with thousands of others to show the public, the media, and our representatives in Washington that we will not give up the fight for our democracy.

It’s a rare moment when a vote of such importance is actually too close to call with only hours left and a real chance to win – please sign the petition and add your voice right now:

Here’s a brief summary of what’s at stake.

Bill Frist, George Bush and the far wing of the Republican party are desperate to seize absolute control over all three branches of our government. For 200 years, the rules of the Senate have blocked one party from taking complete control, because the minority has always had the right to filibuster — to extend debate and delay a vote — when their basic rights were in danger. For centuries this has kept the courts fair by ensuring that judges receive at least some support from both sides of the aisle before they are confirmed for life.

Now Senator Frist wants to break the rules of the Senate and eliminate the filibuster, ending the requirement for broad support and handing absolute control over the courts to one party for the first time in our nation’s history. To begin, he’ll force a handful of extremists onto the powerful U.S. Courts of Appeals. But the real targets are the up to four nominations to the Supreme Court likely to come up during Bush’s second term — enough seats to permanently shift the majority and strike down decades of progress on labor rights, environmental protection, privacy rights, and civil rights.

When Frist first announced his plan, it seemed like it was only a matter of time. After all, the Republicans have 55 votes in the Senate, and Frist only needs 50. But today, with 72 hours left, the vote is still too close to call. Thanks to the amazing work of MoveOn members, our partner groups, the Democratic leadership, and basic common sense three Republicans have publicly denounced Frist’s plan — Sens. John McCain (AZ), Olympia Snowe (ME), and Lincoln Chafee (RO). We need just three more to win and as many as six are still on the fence, including Sens. Arlen Specter (PA), Chuck Hagel (NE), John Warner (VA), and Susan Collins (ME).

We have one last chance to raise our voice, to help our allies stand strong and convince reasonable Republicans to step back from the brink. The courts we have for decades — and the rights they protect or the rights they strike down — may well be determined by what we do now.

Please sign today.

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