Euster, Seth Isaac
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In 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid resorted to the procedural “nuclear option” to thwart Republican obstruction of judicial nominations. This reform-by-ruling of the presiding officer effectively lowers the vote-threshold on certain executive nominations from 60 to 51. This paper elucidates the impact of this procedural reform on the nominations of federal appeals and district court judges. Utilizing survival analysis and logistic regression, I show that nominations made during the use of the nuclear option were more likely to be confirmed as well as confirmed at a quicker rate. The effect of the nuclear option on the likelihood of success and length of the process is statistically significant for both appeals and district court nominations. This indicates that while President Obama and Senator Reid were interested in filling three vacancies on the powerful D.C. Circuit Court, filibuster reform improved the treatment of lower-court judicial nominations across the board.