GOP Senators Leap To Do The Chamber’s Obstructionist Bidding on Judges

Judicial Nominee Jack McConnell

Under the Roberts Court’s leadership, the federal judiciary has become corporate America’s personal genie. Just last week, for example, corporate America wished for consumer class action lawsuits to disappear, and the Supreme Court was more than happy to grant this wish.

Sadly, the Chamber of Commerce has grown so jealous of the sympathetic treatment it receives from the federal bench, it has launched a scorched earth campaign against district court nominee Jack McConnell, a top plaintiffs’ attorney who committed the unforgivable sin of trying to hold lead paint companies and the tobacco industry accountable to their consumers:

Senate Democrats are moving to force a vote on the judicial nomination of John McConnell Jr., a Rhode Island trial lawyer who has drawn heat from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for his work on tobacco and lead-paint litigation.

The move sets up a potential filibuster fight. With 53 members, the Democratic caucus is seven votes short of what it would need to break a filibuster, and some Republicans have named McConnell as one of the Obama judicial nominees they most oppose.

Unsurprisingly, Republicans have tripped over themselves to do the Chamber’s bidding and block McConnell — often with unintentionally hilarious results. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), for example, actually criticized McConnell because he once agreed to donate all of his earnings from a high-profile case to charity.

The Oscar for Most Blatant Capitulation to the Corporate Lobby in a Judicial Confirmation Vote, however, goes to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) for his apparent belief that the United States Constitution changes meaning just because the Chamber wants to block a judge. Back when George W. Bush was nominating judges, Cornyn unequivocally announced that the “U.S. Constitution demands” an “up-or-down vote…when it comes to the confirmation of the President’s judicial nominees.” Filibustering judicial nominees, said Cornyn, is unconstitutional.

Now that corporate America wants to keep McConnell off the bench, however, Cornyn is singing a very different tune. Indeed, he recently indicated that “he will join a GOP effort to filibuster an Obama nominee to a federal bench in Rhode Island.”

Cornyn should consider actually reading Article V of the Constitution, which lays out the process by which the Constitution can be amended. He would be surprised to learn that the Constitution doesn’t actually change meaning just because he or the Chamber would like it to.