The Horror! The Senate Just Confirmed a Judicial Nominee With a Simple Majority!

Patricia Millett finally got through the Senate by a majority vote. American democracy is still standing.

President Barack Obama nominates Patricia Ann Millett to become a federal judge in the Rose Garden at the White House June 4, 2013 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
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Matt Berman
Dec. 10, 2013, 7:45 a.m.

Just be­fore the Sen­ate went nuc­le­ar last month and changed its rules to al­low a simple ma­jor­ity vote to ap­prove most ex­ec­ut­ive and ju­di­cial nom­in­ees, Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, warned that Demo­crats would “rue the day they do it.” Well, they did it. And the new, nuc­le­ar Sen­ate has just taken its first course of busi­ness. Sound the alarm!

Well, not really. Be­cause all they ac­tu­ally did today was vote 56-38 to send Pa­tri­cia Mil­lett to the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the Dis­trict of Columbia. Cue the ma­ni­ac­al laugh from the White House. Or, you know, just a state­ment say­ing that the pres­id­ent is “pleased.”

The Sen­ate is now mov­ing to a con­firm­a­tion vote for Rep. Mel Watt, Obama’s Fed­er­al Hous­ing Fin­ance Agency nom­in­ee. Watt got shut out of con­firm­a­tion on his last vote when a fili­buster on his nom­in­a­tion was still al­lowed, with a 56-42 vote in his fa­vor. If he winds up get­ting a sim­il­ar show of sup­port now that the Sen­ate is nuc­le­ar, he’ll be a shoo-in.

There is def­in­itely po­ten­tial for some Demo­crat­ic rue­ing down the road. But so far, for all the lament­ing about tra­di­tion and warn­ings of a le­gis­lat­ive apo­ca­lypse, the new Sen­ate is look­ing pretty tame.