The Short Version: The Filibuster v. The Nuclear Option

The Short Version: The Filibuster v. The Nuclear Option

The point of it all is to break down the headlines, the week’s most controversial issues, determine why a particular issue is important to you, and reveal the best arguments on each side of the story.

By reading Cleo Abram’s The Short Version, you join a vibrant group of people with two simple beliefs: 1) Every important issue can and should be discussed in a way we all can understand; 2) Understanding both sides makes us more thoughtful and our views more informed.

In a recent iterations of The Short Version, Cleo Abram looked at the impact of Trump budget on the EPA. This week she wonders out loud if the Democrats should filibuster the Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination.

Note: In general, if you have missed any of Cleo’s blogs, just go to our Home Page, type “The Short Version” into Search (magnifying glass icon) and poof, like magic, all her blogs will appear.

“I love getting feedback every week—thank you! If you want come hang out, debate a thing or two, and meet other Shorties, check out Short Events,” says Cleo. “Or if you have a topic you’d be interested in guest writing, just let me know! Let’s make it happen.

Cleo Constantine Abrams of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

Cleo Constantine Abram of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

What’s happening?

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held all its hearings for President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.

If confirmed, Gorsuch may be the most conservative Justice on the Court, “voting to limit gay rights, uphold restrictions on abortion and invalidate affirmative action programs,” according to studies of his opinions as a judge on the 10th Circuit.

To become a Supreme Court justice, a person must go through 3 major steps: be nominated by the president, go through hearings and a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and be confirmed by a vote in the full Senate. Gorsuch is in that second step. The Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on April 3rd and, given that there are 11 Republicans and 9 Democrats on the committee, will very likely send Gorsuch’s nomination to the Senate floor for a full vote soon after.

Why is it important?

This single vacant seat on the Supreme Court is just the beginning. Since 1970, the average retirement age for Supreme Court Justices has been 79. And three Justices are 78 and older. President Trump may have the chance to reshape the Supreme Court. Neil Gorsuch is the first example of this power.

But one Senate rule makes the Gorsuch vote tricky—and deeply controversial. A piece of legislation or a confirmation only needs more than half of the Senate to pass (usually 51 Senators). But Senators are allowed to extend the debate before a vote indefinitely, unless two-thirds of the Senate (usually 60 Senators) votes to end it. The act of delaying a vote indefinitely in order to slow or stop it is called a filibuster.

In other words, you only need 51 votes for a Senate decision, but you need 60 votes to get to decide at all. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate. Gorsuch needs at least eight Democrats to break a filibuster.

But a filibuster is risky. If Democrats filibuster, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can suspend the filibuster rule entirely. We call this the “nuclear option.” The nuclear option causes a problem for both parties—both benefit from filibuster rules when they are a minority in the Senate, and both benefit from the way 60 votes requires the Senate to be a generally moderate, consensus-seeking body.

Debate it!

Should Democrats filibuster Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination? 

Continue reading here.

More about Cleo Abram here:

Cleo Abram 2

Cleo grew up in Washington D.C., lives in New York City, and loves to visit her parents in Telluride. She authors “The Short Version,” a newsletter that explains each week’s most important issue and both sides of the debate around it.

Cleo is a digital strategist now working at Vox, a general interest news site for the 21st century. Its mission is simple: Explain the news. Politics, public policy, world affairs, pop culture, science, business, and more.

Cleo’s work focuses on ways to share, educate, and inform using online platforms. While in college at Columbia University, she guided the school’s entrance into online education through her role as the youngest elected representative to the Columbia Senate, which makes university-wide policy.

She continued her work on online education at TED-Ed, the educational branch of the nonprofit, building new programs and online tools to support high school teachers worldwide.

Continuing her work with TED, Cleo founded and led an early TEDx conference, the organization’s community-specific series.

Most importantly, Cleo loves to ski.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.