11/13/2013 05:02 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Harry Reid Can Move Obama's Nominees Without Changing the Filibuster

It would be best to change or eliminate the filibuster. Failing that, there is a way to get floor votes for the president's nominees.

For the immediate problem of President Obama's egregiously thwarted nominees, there is a make-shift solution that makes only a minor change to the filibuster rules and, then, only if a party has reneged on a prior agreement.

During the Bush administration, Senate Democrats were blocking some very extreme judicial nominees from votes on their nominations.

How extreme were they? Well, take this juicy morsel written as part of an opinion by Judge Janice Rogers Brown whose vote was unblocked by a John McCain (R-AZ)-led compromise:

They can either abide by the sacred tenets of their faith, pay a penalty of over $14 million, and cripple the companies they have spent a lifetime building, or they become complicit in a grave moral wrong.

The "grave moral wrong" to which Brown referred was making contraception available to their employees under their health care plans.

The McCain-led compromise stated that no future judicial nominations would be blocked except under extreme circumstances. None of President Obama's nominees even approaches extreme, and no one has suggested otherwise.

This lends itself to the following solution: the filibuster is inoperative when one party violates a previous understanding relating to the filibuster.

Specifically, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) can invoke the nuclear option and tweak the Senate rules without really altering the filibuster so long as parties' behave, and then bring all of the nominees to vote under that change.

Republicans can appeal to the chair that the nominee is "extreme," but it is unlikely they would try that, knowing they would lose the argument and the vote.

More likely, the mere threat to proceed based upon Republicans' reneging on their prior agreement that, among other things, installed the extreme Janice Rogers Brown on the D.C. Court of Appeals, will result in Senator McCain, again, crafting some compromise that de facto achieves the same result.

Democrats, this time, would be wise to include all the president's nominees, not just judges, under that rule or the compromise that McCain presents, and thus stop the Senate from continuing to abuse the patience of the American people.