More Than 140 Groups That Seldom Take Positions on Judges Call On Senate to Reject Nuclear Option

Media 04.12,05

Washington – Alarmed by some Republican leaders’ attempt to dismantle our system of checks and balances by eliminating the Senate filibuster of judicial nominations, 142 organizations representing a broad cross section of groups that seldom – if ever – take positions on judicial matters delivered a letter to Congress calling on senators to oppose what has become known as the “nuclear option”. The letter was delivered to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) received the letter on behalf of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

“If the right to filibuster is effectively denied for judicial nominations, Social Security could be next,” former Congresswoman and President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) Barbara Kennelly told the afternoon crowd.

The “nuclear option” is a shameless abuse of power that would overturn more than 200 years of Senate tradition and set a dangerous precedent for future legislation. In the letter, the groups, representing 20 million Americans, write: “There has never been a distinction between filibusters of legislation or nominations. Thus, we are concerned that if the so called ‘nuclear option’ is exercised to eliminate the filibuster on judicial nominations, it may also be exercised to eliminate a senator’s right to filibuster legislation.”

“The filibuster is an important mechanism that ensures that dialogue prevails,” said Brent Wilkes, executive director of League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). “For more than 200 years it has been used to maintain balance and in many cases has safeguarded us from extreme views.”

The Hon. Barbara Kennelly (NCPSSM), Reverend Kathryn Johnson (Methodist Federation for Social Action) and Brent Wilkes (LULAC) delivered the letter on the behalf of all 142 organizations. Organizations that signed the letter include groups such as the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, YWCA, LULAC, Common Cause and the Methodist Federation for Social Action and represent a broad range of interests.