Leader Schumer’s Decades-Long History of Politicizing Judicial Confirmations
‘For the Democratic Leader, two things qualify as a crisis when it comes to the courts: The sky is falling when a Democratic president does not get to confirm every last judge he or she wants; and the sky is falling when a Republican president gets to confirm any.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Senate history and judicial nominations:
“I’ve already talked a lot about history this week. But before we shift focus to President Trump’s nominee, we need to review Senate history one more time.
“As we await the hurricane of misrepresentations and bad-faith attacks that seem almost guaranteed to pour out, we need to understand, in clear terms, why our colleague from New York is a uniquely non-credible messenger when it comes to the Senate’s role in judicial confirmations.
“It was Senate Democrats who began our modern challenges with their treatment of Robert Bork in 1987. But the acrimony really got going in the early 2000s, when a group of Senate Democrats took the almost-never-used tactic of filibustering nominations and turned it into a constant routine for the first time ever.
“Who was a main driving force behind those tactics? Let’s consult some New York newspapers from the year 2003.
“Quote: ‘Schumer decided [to] put ideology on the front burner in the confirmation process… ‘I am the leader (of the filibuster movement), and you know, I’m proud of it,’ said the senator from Brooklyn.’
“Quote: ‘Mr. Schumer urged Democratic colleagues… to use a tactic that some were initially reluctant to pursue, and that has since roiled the Senate.’
“Throughout President Bush 43’s two terms, our colleague built an entire personal brand out of filibustering judicial nominees.
“Talented, hardworking people’s careers were destroyed — like the brilliant lawyer Miguel Estrada, a close friend of now-Justice Elena Kagan, who says he is ‘extraordinary’ and ‘thoughtful’ and would have made ‘an excellent addition to any federal court.’ People like that, destroyed by the Democrats’ tactics.
“This version of the now-Democratic Leader said filibustering judges was an essential part of the Senate. He said that if Republicans ever used the nuclear option to ‘change the rules in midstream’ because ‘they can’t get their way on every judge… it’ll be a doomsday for democracy.’
“But of course, in the very next presidential administration, the Democratic Leader leapt at the chance to press that ‘doomsday’ button himself.
“Democrats could not abide President Obama being constrained by the same rules they’d imposed on President Bush. They had no patience to taste their own medicine.
“So the Democratic Leader suddenly decided, quote, “the old rules need to be modified.”
“He voted to use the nuclear option to lower the bar.
“So there actually has been one consistent principle, all this time. For the Democratic Leader, two things qualify as a crisis when it comes to the courts:
“The sky is falling when a Democratic president does not get to confirm every last judge he or she wants… and the sky is falling when a Republican president gets to confirm any.
“Six months ago, our colleague walked across the street to the Supreme Court steps, stood in front of a crowd, and yelled: ‘I want to tell you, Gorsuch! I want to tell you, Kavanaugh!... You will pay the price! You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions!’
“Just last night, he said this: ‘I tell the American people, everything you need and want, just about everything, will be taken away inexorably, month after month, year after year, decision by decision, by this new court.’
“That’s the argument? ‘Everything you need and want… will be taken away’?
“Is this a discussion among Senators or an overdramatic line from a bad movie?
“The American people do not need any more revisionist history lectures, any more threats, or any more performative outrage from the side that launched this unfortunate fight, and escalated it time… after time… after time.
“There is one right path before us. It does right by the judiciary, the Senate, the yet-unnamed nominee, and the American people.
“It is a fair hearing, a fair process, and a fair vote.
“That’s what the American people ensured in 2018, after the Democratic Leader explicitly asked for a referendum on his approach to the judiciary.
“He got that referendum. The people decided. They shrunk his minority even further.
“Americans took care to ensure Senate Democrats could not stand in the way of a fair process. So that is exactly what the Senate will provide.”
Related Issues: Supreme Court, Senate Democrats