Democrats’ ‘Craven’ Hypocrisy

Democrats’ Hypocrisy Between Their Demands For A Hearing And Vote On A Supreme Court Nominee In 2016 And Determination To Block A Supreme Court Nomination In 2020 Is Galling

SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “[T]hey know there is no reason—no reason, no argument, no logic—to justify flipping your position 180 degrees and calling it some kind of principle. It is not. It is utterly craven …” (Sen. Schumer, Remarks, 9/21/2020)


SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE DEMOCRATS IN 2016: ‘There Is No Election Year Exception In The Constitution,’ ‘Our Job Under The Constitution Is To Advise And Consent … Not To Advise And Consent Only After A Presidential Election Has Occurred,’ ‘It Is Our Obligation To Advise And Consent On The President’s Nominee … When The President Nominates, Whoever The President Is’

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member: “The court needs nine justices to function properly. It is vital to our judicial system. So Republicans, we say this, just do your job. Just do what you’re sent here to do.” (“Senate Democrats Converge Around Supreme Court Strategy,” CNN, 2/25/2016)

SEN. PAT LEAHY (D-VT), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “Our independent judicial branch is fundamental to our constitutional system of government. The Senate’s duty to consider judicial nominations under the Constitution is not a political game…. [T]here is no election year exception in the Constitution for the President’s duty to nominate Supreme Court justices. And there is no election year exception in the Constitution to excuse Senators from providing advice and consent on those nominations. And there is no election year exception in the Constitution for the Supreme Court’s role as final arbiter of the law. Our history proves that this is the case: the Senate has confirmed Supreme Court nominees in election years more than a dozen times…. There is no reason why the Senate should not do its job in an election year.” (Sen. Leahy, Press Release, 9/27/2016, Emphasis in original)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “The Senate should do its job and consider a Supreme Court nominee so the Court can function like it’s supposed to. I urge my Republican colleagues to do their job. Give the President’s nominee a hearing and a vote.” (Sen. Durbin, Congressional Record, S.1384, 3/09/2016)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “Our job under the Constitution is to advise and consent. It is not to advise and consent only after a Presidential election has occurred.” (Sen. Klobuchar, Congressional Record, S.6116, 9/27/2016)

  • KLOBUCHAR: “The Constitution is clear: the Senate must consider the President’s nominee and then choose whether to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ We must do our job, hold hearings, and vote.” (Sen. Klobuchar, Press Release, 3/16/2016)

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “I reject the notion that the Senate’s refusal to act, as laid out in no uncertain terms by our Republican colleagues, fulfills our constitutional obligation. It is our obligation to advise and consent on the President’s nominee. We ‘shall’ do so. That is the constitutional mandate--not when it is politically convenient, not when we think it is advantageous, but when the President nominates, whoever the President is …” (Sen. Blumenthal, Congressional Record, S.2857, 5/17/2016)

  • BLUMENTHAL: “Today, congressional Republicans, very frankly, hamper the ability of the Supreme Court to answer important legal questions of our time by refusing to hold even a hearing or a vote … Their doing so has left the bench of the Supreme Court with only eight Justices. That lack of a ninth Justice diminishes and in many respects even disables the Court, as we saw just yesterday in a decision that might well have been decided otherwise if there had been nine Justices to give a majority to one point of view or another.” (Sen. Blumenthal, Congressional Record, S.2857, 5/17/2016)

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “I note that there is a law, which Congress enacted over—almost 150 years ago that says that the Court—Supreme Court—shall consist of a Chief Justice and 8 Associate Justices. This law presumes that when a vacancy occurs, the President and the Senate will fill that vacancy, with the President fulfilling his or her constitutional responsibility to submit a nomination and for the Senate to advise and consent…. What I am suggesting is that [Senate Republicans] do their jobs and that we all do our jobs to provide advice and consent when this president submits his nominee.” (Sen. Hirono, Press Conference, 3/03/2016)

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “The Senate has no excuse to ignore, blockade, or stonewall consideration of this nominee. I look forward to reviewing Chief Judge Garland’s record and meeting with him in the weeks ahead. My Senate colleagues must fulfill their constitutional duty and do the same. The Senate must do its job to provide advice and consent, and swiftly schedule hearings, debate, and an up-or-down vote.” (Sen. Booker, Press Release, 3/19/2016)

SENATE DEMOCRATS IN 2016: ‘It Is The Senate’s Job To Consider Supreme Court Nominees,’ ‘A President Is Elected For All 4 Years, Our Responsibility Is To Provide Advice And Consent, And It Goes On Continuously,’ ‘Republicans Are Telling The American People They Would Rather Save The Seat For Their Presidential Nominee To Fill Than Give A Strong Nominee A Fair Hearing And A Vote’

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “Just as the President has a constitutional responsibility to name a nominee to the Court, the Senate has a constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on that nominee. Frankly, it is the Senate’s job to consider Supreme Court nominees, and the American people expect the Senate to do its job.” (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S.931, 2/23/2016)

SCHUMER: “Senators raised their right hand, swore an oath to the Constitution that says they should advise and consent on Supreme Court nominees…. There’s a vacancy right now. We have a president right now. He’s going to put forward a nominee shortly. The time to do our job is right now. Senators have a job to do no matter who is in the White House.” (Sen. Schumer, Press Conference, 3/01/2016)

SCHUMER: “The Constitution very clearly lays out the job the Senate has to do when it comes to filling a Supreme Court vacancy…. Both sides over the last week have been tossing old quotes about judges and the Supreme Court back and forth…. But here’s the point…. [N]ot one of those quotes affect an actual vacancy or an actual nominee. Not one of the quotes changes the fact that we have a vacancy on the Court now right in front of us that must be filled.” (Sen. Schumer, Press Conference, 2/23/2016)

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-WA): “By allowing this absurd political game to continue, Republicans are preventing the rest of us from upholding our constitutional duty to consider the Supreme Court nominee…. I should add that by refusing to do their jobs and by saying they want to leave it to the next President, Republicans are telling the American people they would rather save the seat for their Presidential nominee to fill than give a strong nominee a fair hearing and a vote. We all know what that means.” (Sen. Murray, Congressional Record, S.6114, 9/27/2020)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): “[T]here is a vacancy on the most important Court in America … The Constitution directs Senators to provide advice and consent on the President’s nominee, and every Senator swore an oath to uphold the Constitution…. President Obama was elected the legitimate President 7 years ago, and he is the legitimate President right now…. I say to you: Do your job. Vote for a Supreme Court nominee.” (Sen. Warren, Congressional Record, S.1362-1363, 3/09/2016)

SEN. GARY PETERS (D-MI): “As Senators, we raise our hand and take a solemn oath to defend the Constitution of the United States and faithfully discharge the duties of our office. One of the core constitutionally mandated duties of serving as a Senator is to advise and consent on Supreme Court nominees … The President is required to nominate a Justice, and the Senate has the job of confirming or rejecting that appointment. If the Senate attempts to undermine the President’s constitutional responsibility to nominate a Justice and this body fails to provide advice and consent on that nomination--well, we then have abdicated one of the Senate’s most important and sacred constitutional obligations.” (Sen. Peters, Congressional Record, S.1378-1380, 3/09/2016)

  • PETERS: “There is a reason that Presidents and the Senate work together and historically do not drag out Supreme Court nominations: An eight-member Supreme Court simply cannot fully do its job. The cases in which the Supreme Court relies on having all nine Justices to break a deadlock are often those that are most contested…. Members of this body must fulfill their obligations. The Members of this body must honor their duty and uphold their constitutional oath. And the Members of this body must fully consider and evaluate the qualifications of any nominee the President submits.” (Sen. Peters, Congressional Record, S.1378-1380, 3/09/2016)

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): “Of course, this isn’t, when there is a vacancy, the President can if he or she desires; no, it is shall. This is a responsibility. You have to fill the position. So the President has an obligation under this clause, and we in the Senate have an obligation to follow up with the advice and consent function.” (Sen. Merkley, Congressional Record, S.1364, 3/09/2016)

  • MERKLEY: “More than a dozen Supreme Court Justices have been confirmed in the final year of a Presidency…. When people elect a President, they don’t say to the President: Do your job for 3 years, but you get the last year off…. A President is elected for all 4 years. Our responsibility is to provide advice and consent, and it goes on continuously.” (Sen. Merkley, Congressional Record, S.1364, 3/09/2016)

SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA): “The President has done his job as is proscribed under the Constitution, and it’s time for Senate Republicans to commit to doing their job by giving this nominee a fair hearing and a timely vote…. The Constitution is clear. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution explicitly requires the President to select a nominee for any vacancy to the Supreme Court, and the Senate to advise and consent on that nominee.” (Sen. Casey, Press Release, 3/16/2016)

  • CASEY: “[T]he Senate has confirmed … Supreme Court nominees in presidential election years…. Senators are free to vote however they choose on a Supreme Court nominee, but they must do their job and give that nominee a fair hearing and a timely vote.” (Sen. Casey, Press Release, 3/16/2016)

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): “Since the beginning of our Nation, the U.S. Senate has respected an important, bipartisan tradition of giving timely and fair consideration to Supreme Court nominees, even during the years when there is a Presidential election…. I do not believe the Founders intended that these rules should be optional or should be something that could be disregarded. Article II states that the President ‘shall hold this office during the term of four years’--not 3 years, not 3 years and 1 month, but 4 full years. Time and again, Senators have done their constitutional duty by considering and confirming Supreme Court Justices in the final year of a Presidency.” (Sen. Shaheen, Congressional Record, S.6118, 9/27/2016)

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): “What has the Senate done in other instances when a vacancy has occurred during the last year of a President’s term? Well, that is easy enough to find out. Before Justice Scalia’s death, more than a dozen Justices have been confirmed during a Presidential [election] year…. Beyond the precedent of previous Senate actions, let’s look at article II, section 2, of the Constitution…. there is certainly nothing in the clause to suggest that the President’s appointed powers or the Senate’s confirmation powers are somehow limited in the last year of a Presidential term.” (Sen. Kaine, Congressional Record, S.2854-2856, 5/17/2016)

  • KAINE: “This makes extremely puzzling the majority’s claim that they want to ‘let the American people decide.’ The American people did decide. They gave President Obama the constitutional responsibility to nominate Justices to the Supreme Court from his first day in office to his last. Some may not be happy with the decision, but it is insulting to the President and it is insulting to the American electorate who chose him, according to longstanding and clear electoral rules, to demean the legitimacy of his election.” (Sen. Kaine, Congressional Record, S.2854-2856, 5/17/2016)
  • KAINE: “The refusal to carry out the commands of the Constitution and the Judiciary Act of 1869, to abide by the Senate precedents, to fill a naturally occurring Supreme Court vacancy, to offer the advice and consent that is part of a Senator’s job description, and to entertain a well-qualified nominee--even for a hearing, much less a vote--will not be viewed favorably in the bright and objective light that history will shine on all of our actions.” (Sen. Kaine, Congressional Record, S.2854-2856, 5/17/2016)


In September 2016, 43 Democrats Even Introduced A Resolution Saying The Senate Should ‘Not Leave Town … Until We Have Provided A Hearing And A Vote On The Pending Supreme Court Nomination’

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: “I am proud to submit today, along with 42 of my Democratic colleagues, including Senator Leahy of Vermont, the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, along with my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, a resolution that says to the Senate of the United States: Do not leave town for a recess until we have provided a hearing and a vote on the pending Supreme Court nomination. Do not leave town without doing your job. Do not leave town without fulfilling your constitutional duty to advise and consent. That is what we should be doing…. it essentially says the President has the obligation to nominate. We have the obligation to advise and consent. We have done so in past years. We should do so now…. Let’s do our job and avoid the self-inflicted damage to our democracy that will result from our leaving without upholding our constitutional duty.” (Sen. Blumenthal, Congressional Record, S.6118, 9/27/2016)

“Today [September 27, 2016], U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, led Democratic Senators in calling for a hearing and a vote on the nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland before adjourning for another… scheduled recess.” (Sen. Blumenthal, Press Release, 9/27/2016)

S.Res.581 - No Vote No Recess Resolution (S.Res.581, 114th Congress)

  • “Today’s resolution is cosponsored by: U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), U.S. Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE), U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), U.S. Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE), U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN), U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN), U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA), U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).” (Sen. Blumenthal, Press Release, 9/27/2016)


SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE DEMOCRATS TODAY: ‘Under No Circumstances Should The Senate Consider A Replacement For Justice Ginsburg Until After The Presidential Inauguration,’ ‘This Close To The Election, There Is No Way That The United States Senate Can Or Should Act,’ ‘I Will Do Everything I Can To Figure Out How We Can Stop A Replacement From Happening’

ALL TEN JUDICIARY COMMITTEE DEMOCRATS: “In light of the vacancy created by Justice Ginsburg’s death, we call upon you to state unequivocally and publicly that you will not consider any nominee to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat until after the next President is inaugurated.” (Judiciary Committee Democrats, Letter to Chairman Graham, 9/19/2020)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member: “Under no circumstances should the Senate consider a replacement for Justice Ginsburg until after the presidential inauguration.” (Sen. Feinstein, Press Release, 9/18/2020)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “What we ought to do is have a nomination of whoever, whether it’s Donald Trump or Joe Biden, who gets inaugurated on January 20th, the next day, nominate somebody and then … having the hearings and vote them up or down.” (CNN, 9/20/2020)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “Let the American people have a voice in filling this vacancy. … There should no confirmation before inauguration.” (Sen. Durbin, Remarks, 9/21/2020)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “I urge my colleagues not to fill this vacancy until the American people have voted.” (Sen. Klobuchar, Remarks, 9/22/2020)

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “This close to the election, there is no way that the United States Senate can or should act before the voters decide.” (Sen. Blumenthal, Press Release, 9/18/2020)

  • BLUMENTHAL: “We are going to fight like hell because the American people deserve a say. Their voices should be heard in this election... They want the next president and the next Senate to choose the next Supreme Court justice. … If the American people are heard, there will be no vote until after the inaugural.” (CNN, 9/21/2020)

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “In the meantime, I will look for every procedural tool that I can find to make sure that this does not happen. We will do everything we can. … [B]ut my goal is to prevent the replacement before the new president is installed. … I will do everything I can to figure out how we can stop a replacement from happening but believe me… what’s going to happen is that there will be a lot more calls for Supreme Court reform if there is a replacement.” (MSNBC, 9/18/2020)

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “We know what should happen, resolutely, unequivocally. We know that this seat should not be filled until after the next presidential inauguration… This is a life and death issue and I’m not being overly dramatic.” (MSNBC, 9/18/2020)

SENATE DEMOCRATS TODAY: ‘Leader McConnell And The Republican Senate Majority Have No Right To Fill [The Vacancy],’ ‘This Is An Illegitimate Nomination,’ ‘Do Not Fill This Supreme Court Seat Until After The Election When The Next President Is Installed’

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “If you care about these things and the kind of country we live in—this election, and this vacancy, mean everything. And by all rights, by every modicum of decency and honor, Leader McConnell and the Republican Senate majority have no right to fill it. No right.” (Sen. Schumer, Remarks, 9/21/2020)

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-WA): “Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave her all to us, and I will give mine to making sure the American people have their next President before her seat is filled.” (Sen. Murray, Press Release, 9/18/2020)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): “Do not fill this Supreme Court seat until after the election when the next president is installed. We have our call to action.” (Sen. Warren, Remarks, 9/22/2020)

  • WARREN: “Look, we need to use every tool, and there are a lot of tools that Democrats have to try and fight this. We got to be strategic about how we use them, but it can’t be business as usual in the Senate. We need to think seriously about everything we can do to try to slow this down and to show how illegitimate this whole process is.” (MSNBC, 9/24/2020)

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): “This is an illegitimate nomination.” (‘This Is An Illegitimate Nomination’: Some Democrats Snub Trump’s Pick,” Politico, 9/24/2020)

SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA): “I think because we have a national election for president and also for the United States Senate, this should be a nomination which is considered when you have a new president. … The right decision is to have a thorough process, to vet a nominee, to make a determination once there’s a new president sworn into office.” (CNN, 9/19/2020)

SEN. GARY PETERS (D-MI): “Our focus should not be on rushing to fill a Court vacancy. That can, and should, wait until Michiganders and the American people have had an opportunity for their voices to be heard and for a new presidential term begins.” (Sen. Peters, Remarks, 9/22/2020)

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): “This next justice will determine the future of civil rights and voting rights, health care access, and reproductive freedoms for every American, and the voices of the people should be heard.” (“Granite Status: Current Supreme Court Fight Different Than Scalia Vacancy, Shaheen Says,” The Union Leader, 9/24/2020)

“Senator [Tim] Kaine [VA] believes the Senate should wait until after the next inauguration before considering a nominee to fill this vacancy. He will do everything he can to ensure that this Supreme Court seat is not filled until then.” (Sen. Kaine, Press Release, 9/18/2020)


Some Democrats Have Flipped 180 Degrees On Whether To Even Meet With A Nominee

SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA), 2016: “Several Senate Republicans have engaged in outrageous political games by refusing to commit to giving any nominee under President Obama a hearing or even a meeting in their offices.” (Sen. Casey, Press Release, 3/16/2016)

SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA), 2020: “No… Why would you meet with somebody if you already know where they’re going to be on every case?” (‘This Is An Illegitimate Nomination’: Some Democrats Snub Trump’s Pick,” Politico, 9/24/2020)

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR), 2016: “I was honored to meet with Merrick Garland today. … President Obama has done his job in putting forward an extremely qualified nominee. Now it is time for Senate Republicans to do theirs and to hold hearings and a vote on his nomination, as the Constitution requires.” (Sen. Merkley, Press Release, 5/19/2016)

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR), 2020: “[I have] no intention [of meeting with the nominee,] I personally have no desire to pretend it’s acceptable.” (‘This Is An Illegitimate Nomination’: Some Democrats Snub Trump’s Pick,” Politico, 9/24/2020)



Related Issues: Supreme Court, Senate Democrats