14 GOP Senators Slam Senate GOP’s ‘Unconstitutional’ Filibuster*

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"14 GOP Senators Slam Senate GOP’s ‘Unconstitutional’ Filibuster*"

Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) Discuss Their Understanding Of The Constitution

Yesterday, Senate Republicans voted nearly unanimously to block Caitlan Halligan’s nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Only Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) broke party lines to join the 54-45 vote to allow Halligan to move forward — leaving Halligan six votes short of what she needed to break the GOP filibuster.

The Senate GOP’s decision to filibuster Halligan earned wide rebukes from Senate Republicans*, many of whom slammed this decision to filibuster a judicial nominee as unconstitutional:

  • Lamar Alexander (R-TN): “I would never filibuster any President’s judicial nominee, period. I might vote against them, but I will always see they came to a vote.”
  • Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA): “Every judge nominated by this president or any president deserves an up-or-down vote. It’s the responsibility of the Senate. The Constitution requires it.”
  • Tom Coburn (R-OK): “If you look at the Constitution, it says the president is to nominate these people, and the Senate is to advise and consent. That means you got to have a vote if they come out of committee. And that happened for 200 years.”
  • John Cornyn (R-TX): “We have a Democratic leader defeated, in part, as I said, because I believe he was identified with this obstructionist practice, this unconstitutional use of the filibuster to deny the president his judicial nominations.
  • Mike Crapo (R-ID): “Until this Congress, not one of the President’s nominees has been successfully filibustered in the Senate of the United States because of the understanding of the fact that the Constitution gives the President the right to a vote.”
  • Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “I think filibustering judges will destroy the judiciary over time. I think it’s unconstitutional”
  • Chuck Grassley (R-IA): “It would be a real constitutional crisis if we up the confirmation of judges from 51 to 60, and that’s essentially what we’d be doing if the Democrats were going to filibuster.”
  • Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX): “[T]he Constitution envisions a 51-vote majority for judgeships…. [Filibustering judges] amend[s] the Constitution without going through the proper processes…. We have a majority rule that is the tradition of the Senate with judges. It is the constitutional requirement.”
  • Jon Kyl (R-AZ): “The President was elected fair and square. He has the right to submit judicial nominees and it is the Senate’s obligation under the Constitution to act on those nominees.”
  • Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “The Constitution of the United States is at stake. Article II, Section 2 clearly provides that the President, and the President alone, nominates judges. The Senate is empowered to give advice and consent. But my Democratic colleagues want to change the rules. They want to reinterpret the Constitution to require a supermajority for confirmation.”
  • Jeff Sessions (R- AL): “[The Constitution] says the Senate shall advise and consent on treaties by a two-thirds vote, and simply ‘shall advise and consent’ on nominations…. I think there is no doubt the Founders understood that to mean … confirmation of a judicial nomination requires only a simple majority vote.”
  • Richard Shelby (R-AL): “Why not allow the President to do his job of selecting judicial nominees and let us do our job in confirming or denying them? Principles of fairness call for it and the Constitution requires it.”
  • John Thune (SD): Filibustering judicial nominees “is contrary to our Constitution …. It was the Founders’ intention that the Senate dispose of them with a simple majority vote.”

*All quotes are taken from when George W. Bush was president. But, of course, that doesn’t matter because — in the words of Cornyn — “we need to treat all nominees exactly the same, regardless of whether they’re nominated by a Democrat or a Republican president.”**

**Cornyn’s statement was also made when George W. Bush was president.

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