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The Nuclear Option

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As early as this week, a “nuclear option” could be invoked to remove the 200-year-old tradition of the Senate filibuster, the tool that empowers 41 or more senators to prevent a narrow majority from abusing its power. The filibuster is one of the only ways to encourage genuine bipartisan cooperation and compromise on important issues that come before the Senate. The nuclear option is currently being considered by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and being pushed by the Religious Right, who would like to confirm President Bush’s judicial nominees. American Progress has put together this resource guide to help you understand the issues.


Supreme Court Nomination Resource Guide, July 14, 2005
A collection of information regarding the upcoming supreme court nominations

Statement on Diffusing Nuclear Option, by John Podesta, May 24, 2005
It should never have come to this. But we commend the 14 senators whose eleventh-hour agreement has ended a reckless exercise in nuclear brinkmanship.

Back from the Brink: A Conventional Alternative to the Nuclear Option, by John D. Podesta and Mark D. Agrast, May 12, 2005
There is yet time for thoughtful people on both sides to avert a confrontation that would impair the ability of the Senate to act as an effective counterweight to presidential power.

On the Brink of 'Theocracy', by Reverend Carlton W. Veazey, May 5, 2005
Progressives who think warnings about "theocracy" are an exaggeration should take a closer look at "Justice Sunday: Filibustering People of Faith," the Christian Right telethon headlined by Senate Majority Leader William Frist.

Going Nuclear: The Threat to Our System of Checks and Balances, A Center for American Progress Event, April 25, 2005
The Center for American Progress brought together distinguished scholars and public figures to discuss the role of the filibuster in protecting minority rights and providing an effective counterweight to presidential power.
From the event:
• John Podesta: Video
• Senator Robert Byrd: Video
• Prof. Michael Gerhardt: Video
• Norman Ornstein: Video
• Q&A Session: Video
Transcript: Full text(PDF)
Note: All video provided in Windows Media format.

Religious Groups Respond to 'Justice Sunday', April 22, 2005
A Resource Guide to religious leaders opposing Justice Sunday: read statements, letters, Op-Ed's, columns and review opposing organizations.

Frist's Hypocritical and Dishonest Attack on Democracy, January 4, 2005
Documents obtained by American Progress show Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist participated in an effort to block one of Bill Clinton's judicial nominees via filibuster, then lied about it.

Progressive Priorities Series: Ideology Matters
Progressive View of the Judicial Confirmation Process, the Center for American Progress's Position on Judicial Confirmations.

Filibuster Central
Visit Campus Progress' resource guide: Students, including leaders of the Campus Progress-supported Princeton Progressive Review, have been filibustering in protest on their own campuses for weeks. Take a look at Campus Progress' special coverage of this explosive issue.


For information on our religious resources,
visit our
Faith and Progressive Policy Web page.

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education, poverty)
202.478.6331 or apreiss@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, Legal Progress, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org