"I cannot recall a judicial nomination being successfully filibustered. I do recall earlier this year when the Republican Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and I noted how improper it would be to filibuster a judicial nomination." Judicial Confirmation Hypocrisy

As the Senate moves closer to a vote on the Constitutional Option – a vote to end the filibusters against President Bush’s judicial nominees – Senate Democrats have ramped up their rhetoric in an effort to defeat the measure.  But it was these very same filibustering Senators who once argued that judicial nominees deserved up-or-down votes on the Senate floor.  Don’t take our word for it.  Here they are, in their own words…  

   Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)

"What I am saying to my friend is that in addition to what I have just said, we now have 30 nominations pending. Once they get out of committee, let's bring them here and vote up or down on them."
[Congressional Record, March 7, 2000]

“I say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, this is not a legacy of which one should be proud. My colleagues need to move these nominations. If there are some nominees whom they do not like, vote them down or do not bring them forward, but let's get these numbers up this year…”
[Congressional Record, March 07, 2000]

“We’re going to have hearings [on President Clinton’s judicial nominees]. We’re going to have the process vetted as soon as possible.  And I think we should have votes in committee and on the floor.”
[Senator Harry Reid, CNN’s Evans, Novak, Hunt and Shields, June 9, 2001]

   Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ranking Member, Judiciary Committee

“I have stated over and over again on this floor that I would refuse to put an anonymous hold on any judge; that I would object and fight against any filibuster on a judge, whether it is somebody I opposed or supported; that I felt the Senate should do its duty. If we don't like somebody the President nominates, vote him or her down.”
[Congressional Record, June 16, 1998]

"I have been calling for the Senate to work to ensure that all nominees are given fair treatment, including a fair vote for the many minority and women candidates who remain pending."
[Congressional Record, July 21, 2000]

"To delay judicial nominations for months and years and to deny them a vote is wrong."
[Congressional Record, October 14, 1998]

"I cannot recall a judicial nomination being successfully filibustered. I do recall earlier this year when the Republican Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and I noted how improper it would be to filibuster a judicial nomination."
[Congressional Record, October 14, 1998]

”I think the Senate is entitled to a vote in this matter, and I think the President is entitled for the Senate to vote, and I think the country is entitled for the Senate to vote.  I would hope it’d be sent to the Senate, let the full Senate Act.”
[Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, November 6, 1997]

   Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA)

“We owe it to Americans across the country to give these nominees a vote.  If our Republican colleagues don’t like them, vote against them.  But give them a vote.”
[Congressional Record, February 3, 1998]

“It is true that some Senators have voiced ‘concerns’ about these nominations.  But that should not prevent a roll call vote which gives every Senator the opportunity to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”
[Congressional Record, September 21, 1999]

“[D]elays can only be described as an abdication of the Senate’s constitutional responsibility to work with the President and ensure the integrity of our federal courts.”
[Congressional Record, September 21, 1999]

   Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)

“The basic issue of holding up judgeships is the issue before us, not the qualifications of the judges, which we can always debate.  …It is an example of Government not fulfilling its constitutional mandate because the President nominates, and we are charged with voting on the nominees.”
[Congressional Record, March 7, 2000]

“I also plead with my colleagues to move judges with alacrity – vote them up or down. But this delay makes a mockery of the Constitution, makes a mockery of the fact that we are here working, and makes a mockery of the lives of very sincere people who have put themselves forward to be judges and then they hang  out there in limbo.”
[Congressional Record, March 7, 2000]

   Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)

“Vote the person up or down.  They are qualified or they are not.”
[Congressional Record, September 28, 1998]

“…it is sad, and it borders on tragic, that men and women who are prepared to give their lives to public service, who have gone through a withering process of investigation, by the FBI, by the Judiciary Committee, by the White House, by the American Bar Association, and so many others, still must wait over a year, in many cases, for their nominations to be considered … by this Chamber. …It does a great disservice to this country and to the judiciary for us to create a process that is so demanding that ordinary people would be discouraged from trying.”
[Congressional Record, March 19, 1997]

“I am suggesting that we would give our consent to all of these nominees.  I am basically saying that this process should come to a close. The Senate should vote.  It should make its decision.”
[Congressional Record, September 28, 1998, in support of his Amendment to force a vote on delayed nominees]

   Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

“I think, whether these delays are on the Republican side or the Democratic side, let these names come up, let us have a debate, let us vote.”
[ Congressional Record, January 28, 1998]

   Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)

“Why should we have to trade progress for partisanship?  I mean, this is our duty. This is something we should be doing.  We’re not asking them to vote for these nominees, we’re just asking them to vote.”
[Congressional Record, September 14, 2004]

“And the way that we’re handling these confirmations is irresponsible, it’s unacceptable, and it’s rude, to think that we are asking these people to put their lives on hold, to not even be heard … to not even be voted up or down.”
[Press Conference, September 14, 2000]

   Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE)

“I respectfully suggest that everyone who is nominated is entitled to have a shot, to have a hearing and to have a shot to be heard on the floor and to have a vote on the floor.”
[Congressional Record, March 19, 1997]

“It is totally appropriate for Republicans to reject every single nominee if they want to.  That is within their right. But it is not … appropriate not to have hearings on them, not to bring them to the floor and not to allow a vote.”
[Congressional Record, March 19, 1997]

   Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)

“I’ll just close by saying that Governor Bush had the right idea.  He said the candidate should get an up or down vote within 60 days of their nomination.”
[Press Conference, September 14, 2000]

“If they want to vote against them, let them vote against them.  That’s their prerogative. But at least have a vote.”
[Press Conference, September 14, 2000]

   Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD)

“This politicization, Mr. President, has been extended to include the practice of denying nominees an up or down vote on the Senate floor. …If the majority of the Senate opposes a judicial nominee enough to derail a nomination by an up or down vote, then at least the process has been served.  Instead, however, the President’s nominees are not even receiving that courtesy from this Senate.”
[Congressional Record, December 15, 1997]

   Senator Carl Levin (D-MI)

“The truth of the matter is that the leadership of the Senate has a responsibility to do what the Constitution says we should do, which is to advise and at lease vote on whether or not to consent to the nomination of nominees for these courts.”
[Press Conference, September 14, 2000]

   Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI)

“A nomination delayed is justice delayed.  As we know, justice delayed is justice denied.  A vacancy unfilled is justice unfilled.”
[Judiciary Committee hearing, June 10, 1999]


 To learn more about Democrat hypocrisy on judicial confirmations, visit the “Name That Speaker” section of U.S. Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) website.

May 18, 2005
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