[JURIST] Senate Republicans filed a motion Friday which starts the countdown towards the "nuclear option" [Wikipedia backgrounder] - a procedure to wipe out the Democrats' power to block President Bush's judicial nominees. The motion would end the Senate debate for federal court nominee Priscilla Owen [DOJ profile] who was renominated by Bush after Democrats blocked her nomination in the last Congress. A Senate majority is required to confirm a nominee, but 60 votes are needed to end a filibuster. Republicans believe they can gain the needed support to ban judicial filibusters, but Democrats contend those are necessary to provide a check by the minority on the majority's power. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of the filibuster debate [JURIST news archive]. Reuters has more.