Senate Judiciary Chairman Ready to Change Filibuster Rules

Fifty-six senators voted for cloture on the president’s latest nominee to the D.C. Circuit. Cornelia Pillard won the vote of every Democrat, every independent (both of them caucus with Democrats), and of Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.* That meant that Pillard went down to a filibuster—the second of three nominees beaten this way, with a third expected tomorrow.

Five frustrated Democrats filed out of the chamber and headed straight to the Senate TV studio. Led by Pat Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary committee and the longest-serving member of the upper house, they condemned Republicans for thwarting female nominees—“pulling up the ladder,” according to Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, just as more women are accruing the experience to serve at these levels.

Republicans are quite confident that the majority would hold off on any filibuster reform. Democrats are angry, they think, but not that angry. But Leahy took a question on whether it was time to look again at filibuster reform.

“I think we’re at a point where there will have to be a rules change,” he said.

*It ended up 56–41 because Harry Reid switched to “no,” a procedural move that the majoirty always makes if it wants to retain the right to bring up the nomination again.