Goodwin Liu’s nomination to serve on the 9th Circuit came up for a vote today and Senate Republicans filibustered it to death. Ian Milhiser notes that many of those who voted to block an up-or-down vote on Liu until recently viewed the filibustering of judicial nominees to be categorically evil:
— 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.”
— 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.”
— 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.”
As I wrote at the time the correct progressive response to the “nuclear option”/filibuster controversy of 2005 would have been to seize the opportunity to eliminate or phase-out the filibuster. Had that happened, a few more right-wing judges would be on the bench today but much more progressive legislation could have passed in the 111th Congress and those extra conservative jurists would be counter-balanced by first-rate progressive jurists like Goodwin Liu.