February 01, 2017

Law360 interviews Mark Pryor on Senate filibuster nuclear option

2 min

Venable partner and former Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor was interviewed in a February 1, 2017 Law360 article on the so-called "nuclear option" the Senate could use to approve President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. Under the current rules, at least 60 senators would need to approve a vote of the full Senate, however Democrats are threatening to filibuster such a vote. Republicans are considering a change to the rules that would allow Judge Gorsuch’s nomination to proceed on a simple majority vote.

Senator Pryor said that a "toxic political environment that is hyperpartisan" could lead to the end of the filibuster that has served as a check on the majority’s power in the Senate. "Both sides have allowed the partisanship to escalate so far that everyone is considering things that should not be considered."

Some of the objections by Democrats stem from Republicans refusal to hold hearings on Judge Merrick Garland who was nominated by former President Barack Obama. Senator Pryor said that anger was understandable but cautioned against overly partisan opposition. "The filibuster has been misused, no doubt about it, but it is an important check and balance," he said. "That is the beauty of the Senate." He added that he hoped the confirmation process for Judge Gorsuch would be "rigorous but fair" and that Senators "need to think about the court and how nominations have been allowed to be politicized."