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It is very likely that many of Clinton's blocked nominees had majority support in the Senate, notwithstanding the Republican majority. Many of his nominees were held up for a year or two by anonymous holds or "blue-slipping" procedures, only to be confirmed by a lopsided event like 96-2 when they actually came to the floor. In some cases, a blocked judge was confirmed UNANIMOUSLY - not even the Senator who had delayed their nomination for years voted no!

This is why, as Mark says, the filibuster is a great democratic tool - when used in its proper form, as opposed to the "paper filibuster" where nothing actually happens. The reason is that, once there's action on the Senate floor, a little thing like accountability enters the equation. Anyone can threaten to filibuster, but a cloture vote forces everyone to go on the record one way or another. And as time goes on, there's going to be a lot of pressure to either end debate or withdraw the nomination. People who equate the filibuster with a mere 60-vote supermajority requirement miss this point.

Rob W

Exactly Steve. I don't know why Frist doesn't just challenge the Democrats' filibuster--the pressure would build on them quickly. By structuring his attack as a change in Senate rules, he turns what could be a Republican opportunity to paint the Democrats as being obstructionist into the 21st Century's equivalent of the Court-packing scheme. I suspect his plan has more to do with 2008 than getting any judges through. I also suspect it will fail--certainly with respect to 2008.

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