Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement



feminist wire | daily newsbriefs


Senators Differ on Impact of Nuclear Option on Supreme Court Nomination

With Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation, Senators on both sides have begun to discuss the potential impact of the so-called "nuclear option" and the deal that took it off the table in May. The deal struck by seven Democratic and seven Republican Senators preserved the use of the filibuster to block judicial nominees in “extraordinary circumstances,” the definition of which was left up to each of the 14 Senators. At the time, Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, asked the question, “Will saving women’s lives, women’s rights, and civil rights be considered such an extraordinary circumstance?”

Now Senators disagree about what constitutes “extraordinary circumstances.” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of the signers of the deal to avoid the nuclear option, said on FOX News Sunday that to him, ideology would not be considered an extraordinary circumstance – rather, such a circumstance would have to be “a character problem, an ethics problem, some allegation about the qualifications of the person…” Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), another member of the deal, agreed through a spokesperson that “ideology is not an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ unless you get to the extreme of either side,” according to the Washington Post. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) believes that “a pattern of irresponsible judgment, where decisions are based on ideology rather than the law, could potentially be ‘extraordinary’,” according to a spokesperson’s interview with the Post. Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), on the other hand, told the Post, “In my mind, extraordinary circumstances would include not only extraordinary personal behavior but also extraordinary ideological positions.”

Under the terms of the deal to avoid the nuclear option, three of the worst far-right Circuit Court of Appeals nominees who had been blocked by Senate Democrats were allowed simple majority votes. On FOX News Sunday, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that this means that those three judges, and judges like them, do not constitute extraordinary circumstances. Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), a key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on CBS News’ Face the Nation that the Supreme Court is a “totally different ball game” than the appellate courts. He said that a nominee like Janice Rogers Brown, who was confirmed under the nuclear option deal to serve on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, would “probably be filibustered.” Rogers Brown has been widely mentioned in the press as a potential nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. She is a supporter of the constitution in exile, questioning the constitutionality of Social Security and most New Deal programs to regulate big business.

LEARN MORE Read Ms. magazine’s Urgent Report on the Looming Fight Over the Supreme Court

DONATE Make an emergency contribution to the Feminist Majority’s Save Roe Campaign. We must be a strong voice in this crucial fight to save Roe and the Supreme Court for women’s rights.

Media Resources: FOX News Sunday 7/3/05; CBS News’ Face the Nation 7/3/05; Washington Post 7/4/05, 7/6/05; Feminist Majority

© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.



Send to a Friend

More Feminist News

11/21/2014 STATEMENT: Feminist Majority Foundation Applauds President's Executive Order on Immigration - Statement from Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority Foundation president: "The Feminist Majority Foundation applauds President Obama for taking much needed executive action to help fix our broken immigration system that has for too long torn hardworking families apart. . . .
11/21/2014 Fifth Circuit Court Refuses to Reconsider Ruling Blocking Mississippi TRAP Law - The full US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Thursday refused to reconsider a panel decision blocking enforcement of a Mississippi law that threatened to close the last remaining abortion clinic in the state. In July, a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction against a Mississippi TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) law requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. . . .
11/21/2014 UN Expert Calls for Action To End Violence Against Women in Afghanistan - United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Rashida Manjoo returned last week from a nine-day official visit in Afghanistan with a call to the Afghan Government and the international community to continue its focus on creating sustainable solutions to reduce violence against women. This was Manjoo's third visit to Afghanistan, and the Special Rapporteur noted many positive developments since her travel to the country in 1999, during the Taliban regime, and in 2005. In particular, Manjoo cited the creation of the Elimination of Violence Against Women Law (EVAW) by presidential decree in 2009 as "a key step towards the elimination of violence against women and girls."EVAW criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women - including rape, child and forced marriage, domestic violence, trafficking, and forced self-immolation - and specifies punishment for perpetrators. . . .