There are many serious consequences that will flow from Harry Reid’s filibuster-busting power grab, but none that has more potential for long term and permanent damage to the economy than regulations governing carbon emissions being planned by the EPA.
Almost every business, large and small, would be impacted. The cost will surely climb into the billions of dollars and may be so onerous that some companies will have to shut their doors.
And those regulations, once finalized, will be challenged in the appeals court where the Democrats are about to install 3 controversial liberal judges who are expected to tip the balance on the court and uphold the regulations.
Green groups might be the biggest winners from Senate Democrats’ decision to gut the minority party’s filibuster rights on nominations.
Their top priority — President Obama’s second-term regulations on climate change — is likely to have a better shot at surviving legal challenges once Obama’s nominees are confirmed for the crucial U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Melinda Pierce, a policy expert for the Sierra Club, said the addition of Obama’s three nominees would be an “improvement” to the D.C. Circuit, which is second only to the Supreme Court in influence and power.
“But filling up all 11 seats, a full panel is an improvement to the current situation in the court,” Pierce said. “And we hope these additions will ensure that the climate regulations are upheld.”
Pierce also defended the three nominees — Patricia Millett, Robert Wilkins and Nina Pillard — saying they “are by no means activists.”
The D.C. Circuit, which handles the majority of legal challenges to regulations, currently has eight members split evenly between Democratic and Republican appointees.
Green groups suffered a major defeat at the circuit court last year when rules to cut soot-and smog-forming power plant emissions that cross state lines were shot down. Those rules had been a pillar of Obama’s air pollution agenda, and are now before the Supreme Court.
Advocates are hoping to avoid a similar defeat when the separate, upcoming carbon emissions standards face litigation at the court, which is a near certainty.
The environmental movement was heavily involved in the fight over limiting the filibuster.
Sierra Club was part of a coalition of liberal groups and unions that pressured Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to limit the use of the filibuster through a majority vote.
Pierce said the end of the 60-vote filibuster for nominees could change the way Obama approaches judicial nominations for the rest of his term.
“It may free Obama up to be more ambitious about putting forward folks that share [the administration's] philosophy and be less fearful because of the 60-vote threshold,” Pierce said.
The same goes for nominations to agencies, which might begin to move through the Senate faster.
That’s good news for nominees to senior roles at the EPA.
One of the major benefits of the filibuster was that it put a brake on radicalism. Presidents couldn’t risk naming extremist nominees because their chances of being confirmed were next to zilch. Now, with a compliant Democratic Senate — who share the views of extremist judges anyway — Obama could send a Mao clone up to the Senate and have him confirmed with no problem.
Think of all the Republican judges that Democrats either forced President Bush to withdraw or who withdrew on their own accord because the Democrats deemed them “radical.” Now, Obama won’t have to worry about any of that nonsense.
By the time he’s through, the judicial branch of government is going to make the law school faculty at Berkley look like the Young Republicans by comparison.