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Senate Democrats warn over change to judicial filibuster procedures

[JURIST] Senate minority leader Harry Reid [official website] warned Tuesday that Democrats would block all Senate business - short of military, national security and critical government services measures - if Republicans continued to push for a change in confirmation procedures to disallow filibusters to block judicial nominations. The warning came in a stiffly-worded letter [text] to Republican majority leader Senator Bill Frist, which called such a move "an unprecedented abuse of power." Watch recorded video of a subsequent speech by Reid on the Capitol steps. Judicial nominations have traditionally been exempt from filibuster limitations, and Republicans are advocating a return to the policy of having a straight 'yes' or 'no' vote on nominees that was used for the 200 years prior to the Democrats' modern change to the process. Under current Senate rules judicial nomination filibusters can only be overridden by 60 votes; the Republican plan would reduce that margin to a simple majority of 51 (the GOP currently holds 55 Senate seats). Senate Democrats and Republicans are in the midst of locking horns over a series of controversial nominees re-presented to the Senate [JURIST report] by President Bush earlier this year after their nominations were stalled by Democrats last fall. View the Senate Judiciary Committee's list of judicial nominations. JURIST provides a news archive on judicial nominations. AP has more.

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