Filibuster Summer is Coming Our Way

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In recent years, the DC Court of Appeals has been busily at work trying to undermine as much of President Obama’s agenda as they can get their eager little right-wing hands on. Republicans, needless to say, think this is a fine thing, which means they’re none too eager to let Obama fill the court’s open vacancies with judges who might not be quite such committed Federalist Society members. The filibuster is their weapon of choice to keep the court stacked with conservative judges, but today the New York Times reports that Obama is finally getting ready to fight back by submitting nominees for all three open vacancies simultaneously:

In trying to fill the three vacancies on the 11-member United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit at once, Mr. Obama will be adopting a more aggressive nomination strategy. He will effectively be daring Republicans to find specific ground to filibuster all the nominees.

….Democrats say Republicans in the Senate have violated long-standing traditions by routinely requiring 60 votes to approve even the most uncontroversial legislation or nomination. Democrats are preparing to escalate the dispute this summer by scheduling numerous confirmation votes in a short period of time. If, as Democrats expect, Republicans block those nominations, Mr. Obama and his allies hope the public will notice.

With enough public pressure, some Democrats hope that they could change the Senate rules to prohibit filibusters on judicial nominations and in some other areas.

The strategy appears to be simple: nominate three judges who are left-of-center but basically uncontroversial, giving Republicans no legitimate hook for opposition. If they filibuster anyway, implicitly breaking their promise earlier this year to rein in their obstructionism, maybe centrist Democrats can finally be persuaded to support serious filibuster reform. And the plan, apparently, is to do this at the same time that Republicans are likely to be ramping up yet another hostage-taking exercise over the debt ceiling, thus providing yet more evidence of their extremism. Should be fun.

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

If you can, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones—that exists to make a difference, not a profit—with a donation of any amount today. We need more donations than normal to come in from this specific blurb to help close our funding gap before it gets any bigger.

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