Senate Republicans Filibuster Judge They Don’t Even Oppose

Judge Robert Bacharach

Last January, President Obama nominated federal Magistrate Judge Robert Bacharach to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Since then, Bacharach’s done little more than generate bipartisan support for his nomination. Even Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), an ultra-conservative who believes that Medicare is unconstitutional, called Bacharach “a stellar candidate” who “ought to get through,” and the Senate Judiciary Committee voted nearly unanimously to approve Bacharach. Only Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), the Tea Party senator who votes against every single one of Obama’s nominees, voted against Bacharach in committee.

So Bacharach enjoys widespread bipartisan support, including support from the Senate’s most ideological wing. He should be a shoo-in for confirmation — except, of course, for the fact that the Senate is run by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is forcing a vote Monday afternoon on Robert Bacharach, of Oklahoma, for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, a nominee considered to be highly qualified and noncontroversial. The move is a direct challenge to Republicans who have leaked plans that they will block all circuit court judges for the rest of the presidential election year.

But it is also Reid’s only option for moving forward on the circuit court nominees this congressional session, as Republicans cite a loosely defined Senate tradition of backing off from filling circuit court seats in the waning months of a president’s term, dubbed “The Thurmond Rule.”

The “Thurmond Rule” — which doesn’t actually do what McConnell says it does — is named for the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC). Thurmond is best known for delivering the longest filibuster speech in American history in order to block a civil rights bill.