The article is entitled "Nuclear Option". This is happening right now, and I feel like I have to explain it to nearly everyone I talk to because the traditional media is not giving it time, probably because it would take a minute to explain, there is no neat graphic, or too many lines in a paper.
Anyway, here you go -
The 'nuclear option', as used in American politics circa 2005, is a catchprase referring to a political maneuver that would allow the Senate majority (currently Republicans) to prevent the minority party (currently Democrats) from filibustering judicial nominees. By U.S. Law, certain judicial appointees, particularly Supreme or other federal court Justices, must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before taking the bench. Under current Senate rules, a minority of senators are able to prevent the confirmation of judges via filibuster unless a supermajority can be reached to 'break' the filibuster. The 'nuclear option' refers to the technicality that only a simple majority is necessary to change this rule. That is, although a supermajority is currently necessary to break the filibuster, a simple majority could alter the Senate rules so that only a simple majority would be required to break the filibuster.
Proponents call it a nuclear option because they see it as a last resort with possibly catastrophic consequences for both sides. There is no consensus among republicans over whether it would be strategic to employ it, with Robert Novak supporting it and National Review opposing it. Fears that this action would cause, at the least, an obstinate opposition by Senate Democrats, and at worst a shut down of the entire legislative branch, were increased on March 15, 2005, when Senate Minority leader Harry Reid stated publicly that, were the Republicans to pursue this technique, the Democrats would be uncooperative on all future legislation, except national security and military issues.
Opposition to the action includes the following
Republicans employed the technique of filibustering judicial nominees under Clinton, thus any such move would be hypocritical.
The nuclear option would cause the Senate to grind to a halt, compromising any future legislation.
Proponents of the action maintain that the Senate's sole role regarding judicial nominees is to 'advise and consent'; a minority of Senators should not be allowed to overrule the consent of the majority. Proponents also argue that the filibuster technique here is not constitutionally grounded, and has never been used throughout American history to prevent the appointment of judges of the opposite political affiliation.-----
so, the gist - Bush nominates whoever he wants to the supreme court (or lesser court) and that person will be accepted. Then nothing will get done in congress for the next 4 years. This is a big deal because these supreme court justices are old and sick. Civil liberties... who needs 'em?
McCain put the nail in his coffin of presidential dreams by saying that the Republicans should not use the nuclear option... which means Frist is on the attack,
"the majority leader, has agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying Democrats as "against people of faith" for blocking President Bush's nominees...
The telecast also signals an escalation of the campaign for the rule change by Christian conservatives who see the current court battle as the climax of a 30-year culture war, a chance to reverse decades of legal decisions about abortion, religion in public life, gay rights and marriage.
"As the liberal, anti-Christian dogma of the left has been repudiated in almost every recent election, the courts have become the last great bastion for liberalism," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and organizer of the telecast, wrote in a message on the group's Web site. "For years activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the A.C.L.U., have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms.""The problem with arguing with fundamentalists is that there is nothing to say to change their minds.
I really urge you to learn about this, it's a big deal.