Right-wingers in the Senate are having a hard time squaring their current objections to judicial filibusters with past practices. Specifically, they can’t get their story straight about their 2000 filibuster of Richard Paez, Bill Clinton’s nominee to the 9th Circuit.
Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) was confronted about his vote to filibuster Paez on CBS’s Face the Nation in November. Frist claimed they just needed more time (never mind that the nomination had been pending for four years):
“Filibuster, cloture, it gets confusing — as a scheduling or to get more information is legitimate. But no to kill nominees.”
In a recent article in the New Republic, Sen. Orrin Hatch has a different explanation. Hatch actually claims they were doing Paez a favor by filibustering his nomination:
“Even on controversial nominees such as Richard Paez…we invoked cloture to ensure that we would vote on confirmation.”
The truth, however, is found in a press release — entitled “Smith Leads Effort to Block Activist Nominees” — by former Sen. Bob Smith, issued on March 9, 2000, the day after the filibuster. Smith unequivocally states:
“[I] built a coalition of several moderate and conservative Senators in an effort to block [Paez].”