Democrats Have A Long, Shameful Record Of Attacking Minority And Female Judicial Nominees

From Joe Biden Presiding Over The ‘National Disgrace’ Of Clarence Thomas’ Hearing To Chuck Schumer Reviving ‘Bork-Style’ Tactics To Stonewall Miguel Estrada And Attack Janice Rodgers Brown To Democrats’ Near-Lockstep Opposition To Minority Nominees During The Last Administration, Senate Democrats Inhabit An Imposing Glass House From Which They Have No Business Throwing Stones


2005: Senate Democrats Ruled Out Minority Candidates For A Supreme Court Appointment, With Joe Biden And Chuck Schumer Explicitly Threatening To Block A Nomination Of Judge Janice Rogers Brown

“[Priscilla] Owen and [Janice Rogers] Brown were cleared for confirmation to the appellate courts as part of [the Gang of 14] agreement, and Republicans said then that Democratic acquiescence in their confirmation meant the opposition party could not use ideology to bar future Bush nominees. But Democrats rejected that interpretation and said this week that Owen, Brown and several others believed to be under consideration by the president face a likely filibuster if nominated to the high court.” (“Filibuster Showdown Looms In Senate,” The Washington Post, 9/28/2005)

THEN-SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE), 2005: “[I]t depends on who the president sends. But I could see a circumstance--for example, if he sent up Edith Jones I can assure you that would be a very, very, very difficult fight and she probably would be filibustered.”
JAN CRAWFORD GREENBURG: “What about Janice Rogers Brown, someone else?”
BIDEN: “Excuse me. I’m not--by the way, I misspoke. I misspoke. Janice Rogers Brown is what I meant to say.”
BIDEN: “I misspoke. Thank you for saying that…. Janice Rogers Brown.”
CBS’ JOHN ROBERTS: “Wasn’t she just confirmed, though? How do you invoke the—”
BIDEN: “Yes.”
ROBERTS: “—extraordinary circumstances clause of the agreement of the Gang of 14 for somebody—”
BIDEN: “I’ll tell you why.”
ROBERTS: “—who’s just been confirmed?”
BIDEN: “Because a circuit court a judge is bound by stare decisis. They don’t get to make new law. They have to abide by the--for example, she could not, in the—“
ROBERTS: “So what you’re saying is the Supreme Court’s different than the appellate—“
BIDEN: “Different ball game.”
ROBERTS: “Right. OK.”
BIDEN: “Totally different ball game.”

GREENBURG: “Is a filibuster, would you say, more likely to replace Justice O’Connor than if the president is replacing a more conservative like the chief justice?”
BIDEN: “Well, I--probably. But look, I don’t know anybody talking about a filibuster right now. All I was responding to was would it be appropriate to filibuster under any circumstances? … The answer is it is appropriate under some cir—and by the way, one in every five justices nominated by a president of the United States since 1789 has been rejected by the United States Senate--one in five.” (CBS’ “Face the Nation,” 7/03/2005)


Schumer Went Out Of His Way To Describe Potential Supreme Court Nominees Who Would Be Unacceptable To Him: Judge Janice Rogers Brown, Judge Priscilla Owen, And Miguel Estrada

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), 2005: “While this nomination did not warrant an attempt to block the nominee on the floor of the Senate, the next one might. If the President sends us a nominee who, like Janice Rogers Brown, believes that the New Deal was the triumph of a ‘socialist revolution,’ there will be a fight. If the President sends us a nominee who, like Priscilla Owen, was criticized by her conservative colleague--Alberto Gonzales--for an ‘unconscionable act of judicial activism,’ there will be a fight. If the President sends us a nominee who, like Miguel Estrada, refuses to answer any real questions and whose record is not made fully available, there will be a fight.” (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S.10539, 9/28/2005)


2001-2005: Schumer Led Senate Democrats In Turning Their ‘Bork-Style’ Tactics Against Republican Minority And Female Judicial Nominees

2001: ‘Democrats Pioneered The Use Of The Filibuster To Block Nominees To The Circuit Courts’ After Chuck Schumer ‘Proposed To Bring Back Bork-Style Debate’

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD: “[I]n George W. Bush’s first term Senate Democrats pioneered the use of the filibuster to block nominees to the circuit courts. That was also unprecedented. Miguel Estrada was left hanging for 28 months before he withdrew, though he had support from 55 Senators. A 2001 Judiciary Committee memo to Sen. Dick Durbin was candid in urging opposition to Mr. Estrada because ‘he is Latino’ and couldn’t be allowed to reach the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals lest he later become a candidate for the Supreme Court. Democrats also filibustered or otherwise blocked appellate nominees Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, Charles Pickering Sr., Henry Saad, Carolyn Kuhl, William Pryor, David McKeague, Richard Griffin and William Myers, among others.” (Editorial, “Breaking Judicial Norms: A History,” The Wall Street Journal, 9/20/2020)

Schumer ‘Proposed To Bring Back Bork-Style Debate’ And Then Pioneered The Use Of The ‘Extreme Tactic’ Of Routine Filibusters Against Circuit Court Nominees

“Politics had also had an effect on the way the Senate confirmed nominees. In 1987, the Senate defeated President Reagan’s nomination of Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court after a rancorous debate over his ideology … Over a period of almost a year, starting in June of 2001, Schumer held a series of judiciary-subcommittee hearings in which he proposed to bring back Bork-style debate. For too long, he wrote in an Op-Ed piece in the Times, explicit consideration of nominees’ ideology was taboo in the Senate…. Instead, Schumer said, the Senate should feel free to reject nominees—who were otherwise well qualified—because their views were simply too conservative.” (Jeffery Toobin, “Advice and Dissent,” The New Yorker, 5/18/2003)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “I am the leader (of the filibuster movement), and, you know, I’m proud of it.” (“Schumer V. Bush: Battle For The Courts,” The Buffalo News, 5/27/2003)

  • “Schumer began a campaign to reshape the way the Senate deals with judicial nominees -- including members of the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Democrats, Schumer decided, would put ideology on the front burner in the confirmation process. Schumer’s deployment of the filibuster to smoke out the ideologies of Bush nominees is working, for now. ‘I am the leader (of the filibuster movement), and, you know, I’m proud of it,’ said the senator from Brooklyn.” (“Schumer V. Bush: Battle For The Courts,” The Buffalo News, 5/27/2003)

“…Charles E. Schumer recommended using an extreme tactic the filibuster -- to block some Bush administration nominees for federal judgeships… Most important, people on Capitol Hill say, Mr. Schumer urged Democratic colleagues in the Senate to use a tactic that some were initially reluctant to pursue, and that has since roiled the Senate: a filibuster on the floor of the chamber to block votes on nominees he and other Democrats had decided to oppose.” (“An Infuriating Success; Schumer Draws Fire For Tactics Blocking Judicial Nominees,” The New York Times, 11/01/2003)

One Internal Democrat Memo Smeared ‘Most Of Bush’s Nominees’ As ‘Nazis’

MEMO FOR SEN. DURBIN: “There’s a reason why we do what we do – most of Bush’s nominees are nazis [sic].” (Congressional Record, E.2411, 11/22/2003)


Led By Schumer, Democrats Savaged Miguel Estrada And Filibustered His Nomination An Incredible SEVEN TIMES

Schumer Led The Charge As Miguel ‘Estrada’s Sharpest Critic,’ Despite Him Being The First Hispanic Nominee To The D.C. Circuit Court Of Appeals

“September 9, 2001, marked an important date in the Bush Presidency. That was the day Miguel Estrada was nominated to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which is generally regarded as the second most important court in the nation, after the Supreme Court. At the age of thirty-nine, Estrada had impeccable legal credentials and an inspiring personal story. He had emigrated to New York from Honduras as a teen-ager, attended Columbia College and Harvard Law School, clerked at the Supreme Court (for Anthony Kennedy), and served as a federal prosecutor and assistant solicitor general. Given the Bush Administration’s long-standing efforts to appeal to Hispanic voters, Estrada looked like a prime candidate to become a Supreme Court Justice…. But, for all his accomplishments, Estrada had virtually no paper trail…. Estrada did, however, belong to the Federalist Society, an organization of conservative lawyers that has served as an essential networking tool on the right, and in the Washington legal community activists … spread word that Estrada was a hard-core conservative in the tradition of Scalia and Thomas. So liberal groups, including several Latino organizations, mobilized against Estrada and began examining his past for ethical missteps that might be used to stop his confirmation…. The search for dirt came up empty. But Senator Schumer was building the framework for a more potent attack on the nominee—and, indeed, on the Bush effort to reshape the judiciary. ‘When I came to the Senate, I knew I had the ability to help choose judges,’ Schumer told me recently over lunch in the Senate dining room…. Other Bush nominees had given similarly vague answers about Roe, but, when the Estrada nomination headed to the Senate floor, in early 2003, the Democrats decided not to let him get away with it…. Through repeated test votes on the filibuster, more than forty of the forty-eight Democrats (plus James Jeffords, the Vermont independent) voted to stop Estrada’s confirmation.” (Jeffery Toobin, “Advice and Dissent,” The New Yorker, 5/18/2003)

  • SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): “I know Miguel Estrada, and I know how proud he is in ways that he is unable to express about being the first Hispanic nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. So I will express it. This is a matter of pride for him for he same reason that it is for any of us, not just because Mr. Estrada is a symbol for Hispanics in America, but because Miguel Estrada’s story is the best example of the American dream of all immigrants.” (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 9/26/2002)

“Liberal Democrats began focusing on a second nominee, Miguel Estrada, a lawyer and a former assistant to the solicitor general…. Liberals suspected he was a hard-core conservative … Democrats faced a crucial decision. Some wanted to add Estrada to their filibuster list, a move certain to inflame Republicans…. At a Tuesday luncheon for all 49 Democrats in the Capitol’s ornate ‘LBJ room’ in February 2003, Democratic leaders gave the floor to Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), Estrada’s sharpest critic…. ‘We cannot let the courts be hijacked,’ Schumer, interviewed this week, recalled telling his colleagues. He and his allies prevailed, and the Estrada filibuster soon began. Republican leaders now realized Democrats were pursuing the extraordinary tactic of trying to block multiple nominees with their powers to delay action.” (The Washington Post, 5/19/2005)

Internal Memos For Judiciary Committee Democrats ‘Identified Miguel Estrada … As Especially Dangerous, Because … He Is Latino, And The White House Seems To Be Grooming Him For A Supreme Court Appointment’

MEMO TO SEN. DURBIN (D-IL): “The groups singled out three [circuit court nominees]-- Jeffrey Sutton (6th Circuit); Priscilla Owen (5th Circuit); and Caroline [sic] Kuhl (9th Circuit) -- as a potential nominee for a contentious hearing early next year, with a [sic] eye to voting him or her down in Committee. They also identified Miguel Estrada (D.C. Circuit) as especially dangerous, because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment. They want to hold Estrada off as long as possible.” (Editorial, “He Is Latino,” The Wall Street Journal, 11/14/2003)

Democrat Leaders Held Press Conferences With Liberal Groups That Accused Miguel Estrada Of Not Being Authentically Hispanic And Exclaiming That His Confirmation Would Mean ‘The American Dreams Of The Majority Of Hispanics Living In This Country Will Come To An End’

“Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), flanked by members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other Latino groups, drew battle lines for the year’s first major judicial controversy as the Senate opened debate on Estrada’s nomination … Daschle’s comments at a news conference with the anti-Estrada Hispanic groups came after the Democrats’ weekly luncheon, which was devoted in large part to discussing the nomination.” (“Filibuster Over Estrada Considered,” The Washington Post, 2/06/2003)

“[T]hose opposing [Estrada] include the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Spokesmen for those groups appeared at a news conference Wednesday and accused Estrada of being insensitive to the concerns of the Latino community. ‘Being Hispanic means more than having a [Latino] surname,’ said Rep. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a senior member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.” (“Democrats Spoiling for Estrada Fight,” Los Angeles Times, 2/06/2003)

“[T]o hear representatives from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and others tell it, the Estrada nomination should be killed … because Estrada, who was born and raised in Honduras before coming to the United States and learning English at the age of 17, is simply not authentically Hispanic.” (Byron York, “Dems to Miguel Estrada: You’Re Not Hispanic Enough,” National Review, 2/06/2003)

  • Angelo Falcon, an official of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, railed about the ‘Latino Horatio Alger story that’s been concocted’ about Estrada’s success and, more generally, about the ‘concocted, invented Latino imagery’ of Estrada’s life. ‘As the Latino community becomes larger and larger in the country, as we gain more political influence, as we become more diverse, the issue of what is a Hispanic becomes more problematic,’ Falcon explained. ‘It’s not good enough to simply say that because of someone’s genetics or surname that they should be considered Hispanic.’” (Byron York, “Dems to Miguel Estrada: You’Re Not Hispanic Enough,” National Review, 2/06/2003)
  • Marisa Demeo from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund went even farther. Not only is Estrada not authentically Hispanic, Demeo argued, but his elevation to the federal bench would ‘crush’ the American dream for millions of genuine Hispanics in the United States. Demeo was particularly angry at Republican Judiciary Committee member Sen. Charles Grassley, who last week said that, ‘If we deny Mr. Estrada a position on the D.C. Circuit, it will be to shut the door on the American dream of Hispanic Americans everywhere.’ ‘Actually, the reverse is true,’ Demeo said. ‘If the Senate confirms Mr. Estrada, his own personal American dream will come true, but the American dreams of the majority of Hispanics living in this country will come to an end through his future legal decisions.’” (Byron York, “Dems to Miguel Estrada: You’Re Not Hispanic Enough,” National Review, 2/06/2003)

Senate Democrats Proceeded To Filibuster Estrada’s Nomination To The D.C. Circuit Court Of Appeals SEVEN Times

In 2001, when Democrats held the Senate majority, they refused to hold a hearing on the nomination of Miguel Estrada for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. (PN401, 107th Congress)

In 2002, the Democrat majority finally held a hearing over a year after Estrada was renominated to the same position, but refused to hold a vote on his nomination. (PN896, 107th Congress)

In 2003, under a Republican majority, Estrada was renominated again, but Senate Democrats shamefully voted SEVEN TIMES to filibuster Estrada’s nomination despite Estrada earning majority, bipartisan support in each vote, and ultimately blocked him altogether. (PN6, 108th Congress; PN6, Roll Call Vote #40: Motion rejected 55-44: D 4-43; R 51-0; I 0-1, 3/06/2003; PN6, Roll Call Vote #53: Motion rejected 55-42: D 4-41; R 51-0; I 0-1, 3/13/2003; PN6, Roll Call Vote #56: Motion rejected 55-45: D 4-44 R 51-0; I 0-1, 3/18/2003; PN6, Roll Call Vote #114: Motion rejected 55-44: D 4-43; R 51-0; I 0-1, 4/02/2003; PN6, Roll Call Vote #140: Motion rejected 52-39: D 3-38; R 49-0; I 0-1, 5/05/2003; PN6, Roll Call Vote #143: Motion rejected 54-43: D 4-42; R 50-0; I 0-1, 5/08/2003; PN6, Roll Call Vote #312: Motion rejected 55-43: D 4-42; R 51-0; I 0-1, 7/30/2003)


‘[T]he Success Against Estrada Emboldened The Democrats To Launch More Filibusters’

“[T]he success against Estrada emboldened the Democrats to launch more filibusters. Several senators from both parties asserted that the Democrats’ leader in the Senate, Tom Daschle, had said he could hold a filibuster against any judicial nominee who drew unanimous opposition from all nine Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. On May 1st [2003], the Democrats launched a filibuster to stop the nomination of Priscilla Owen, the Texas judge … ‘We’ve learned we can win these fights,’ Schumer says.” (Jeffery Toobin, “Advice and Dissent,” The New Yorker, 5/18/2003)

Democrats Filibustered The Nomination Of Judge Carolyn Kuhl To The 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals, Despite Resounding Endorsements From Fellow Women Jurists

THEN-SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): “Since 1995, Judge Kuhl has served as a judge on the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Nearly 100 of her fellow judges on that court have written to the Committee to voice their ardent support for her nomination. Here is what they have to say: ‘We are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents and have all had the opportunity to observe the leadership and demeanor of Judge Kuhl...We know she is a professional who administers justice without favor, without bias, and with an even hand. We believe her elevation to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will bring credit to all of us and to the Senate that confirms her. As an appellate judge, she will serve the people of our country with distinction, as she has done as a trial judge.’ Another letter came from the officers of the Litigation Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. With more than 3,000 members, this is the largest voluntary bar association in the United States. They write, ‘By reputation and our personal experience, Judge Kuhl is extremely intelligent, hard-working and thoughtful. She gained the prestigious appointment as Supervising Judge of the Complex Courts after only a few years on the bench because of those traits. In addition, she has a well-deserved reputation as being a fair-minded judge who follows legal precedent...On a personal level, we have come to know her as a warm, witty and deeply caring person. We could not recommend her more highly for nomination to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.’” (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 4/01/2003)

  • THEN-SENATE MAJORITY LEADER BILL FRIST (R-TN): “In reviewing Judge Kuhl’s record, I was most struck by the wide support she has received, referred to by the Chairman, without regard to partisan politics. I was impressed by the letter from 23 women, all of whom sit as judges on the Superior Court of Los Angeles, the letter dated February 22, 2002. They write, and I quote, ‘Judge Kuhl is seen by us and by members of the bar who appear before her as a fair, careful, and thoughtful judge who applies the law without bias. She is respected by prosecutors, public defenders, and members of the plaintiffs’ and defense bar. She is conscientious, scholarly, courteous, and willing to listen with an open mind to the arguments of counsel. Judge Kuhl approaches her job with respect for the law and not a political agenda. Judge Kuhl has been a mentor to new women judges who join our court. She has helped promote the judicial careers of women, both Republican and Democrat.’” (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 4/01/2003)

When they held the Senate majority, Democrats refused to take any action on Judge Carolyn Kuhl’s nomination to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, twice sending her nomination back without holding a hearing. (PN564, 107th Congress; PN899, 107th Congress)

When Republicans held the Senate majority, Democrats filibustered and blocked Judge Kuhl’s nomination, despite her earning bipartisan majority support. (PN8, Roll Call Vote #451: Motion rejected 53-43: D 2-42; R 51-0; I 0-1, 11/14/2003; PN8, 108th Congress)

Democrats Filibustered The Nomination Of Judge Henry Saad To Be A Judge For The 6th Circuit Court Of Appeals, Despite The Fact He Would Have Been The First Arab-American Appointee To That Court

“Judge Saad was born in Detroit and is a life-long resident of Michigan. He would be the first Arab American appointee to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.” (Judge Henry W. Saad, George W. Bush White House Website Archive, Accessed 3/14/2022)

  • ‘U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE GEORGE STEEH, III, an Arab-American Clinton appointee in Michigan’: “[Bush’s nomination of Saad in the wake of the September 11 attacks] conveys an important message to all the citizens and residents of this country that we embrace and welcome diversity and that we are extending the American dream to anyone who is prepared to work hard.” (Judge Henry W. Saad, George W. Bush White House Website Archive, Accessed 3/14/2022)

Senate Democrats filibustered and blocked the nomination of Judge Henry Saad to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, despite his nomination receiving bipartisan majority support. (PN14, Roll Call Vote #160: Motion rejected 52-46: D 1-45; R 51-0; I 0-1, 7/22/2004; PN14, 108th Congress)


2003-2005: Democrats Took The Senate To The Brink Of A Nuclear Showdown Over Their Filibusters Of Priscilla Owen And Janice Rogers Brown

“California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown and a Texas judge were named Friday as the federal judicial nominees who will be considered by the Senate next week, a move expected to trigger a long-awaited showdown with Democrats. The announcement Friday by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) propels Brown and Priscilla R. Owen, a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, to center stage of a political brawl that has gripped the Senate for weeks -- over use of the filibuster against a president’s picks for federal judgeships…. Democrats relied on the filibuster threat to block President Bush’s nomination of Brown, Owen and eight others to federal appellate courts during his first term, saying the nominees were too conservative. Earlier [in 2005], Bush resubmitted seven of the nominees, including Brown and Owen…. Brown and Owen were among the resubmitted nominees whom Democrats have said they would again filibuster. Republicans have responded by threatening to change the Senate’s rules to bar use of the filibuster against judicial nominees.” (“Jurists Picked For Showdown On Filibuster,” Los Angeles Times, 5/14/2005)

  • “Fourteen Republican and Democratic senators announced [May 23, 2005] they had reached a compromise designed to prevent a showdown over President Bush’s judicial nominations…. Under the deal, the Democrats agreed to accept cloture votes, and thus up-or-down ballots, on three of President Bush’s judicial nominees: Priscilla R. Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William H. Pryor Jr. They also agreed that filibusters should be used to block Senate action on nominees only ‘under extraordinary circumstances.’ In return, the Republicans pledged not to support the so-called ‘nuclear option’ to end the ability of the minority to use filibusters.” (“Fourteen Senators Reach Deal on Filibuster,” The Washington Post, 5/23/2005)

Despite Her Obvious Qualifications And Her Status As The First Black Woman Appointed To The California Supreme Court, Senate Democrats Filibustered The Nomination Of Janice Rogers Brown To The D.C. Circuit Court Of Appeals As Left Wing Groups And Other Democrats Launched Nasty, Racial Attacks On Her

“Justice [Janice Rogers] Brown … served on the California Supreme Court since May 1996, when her historic appointment made her the first African-American woman to sit on that court. From 1994 to 1996, Justice Brown served on an intermediate California appellate court.” (“Justice Janice Rogers Brown,” George W. Bush White House Archive Website, 6/08/2005)

  • “Justice Brown’s personal story is an inspiring example of the American dream. Born to sharecroppers in Greenville, Alabama, Justice Brown attended segregated schools and came of age in the midst of Jim Crow laws. She grew up listening to her grandmother’s stories about NAACP lawyer Fred Gray, who defended Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks. Her experience as a child of the South motivated her to become a lawyer and to devote her life to public service. When she was in her teens, Justice Brown’s family moved to Sacramento, California. Justice Brown received her B.A. in economics from California State University in Sacramento and her law degree from the University of California Los Angeles School of Law. Her distinguished career serving the California public earned her an appointment to the California Supreme Court, where she was retained with 76 percent of the vote in the last election.” (“Justice Janice Rogers Brown,” George W. Bush White House Archive Website, 6/08/2005)
  • SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): “[A]s judge, Justice Brown has received strong support from Californians. As you can see, Justice Brown, during the 1998 election, she was one of four justices of the California Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice, who were up for retention elections, and California voters supported all four of those justices. Justice Brown received a yes vote of 76 percent of California voters, the highest vote percentage of all four justices … Justice Brown, along with her colleagues, also received strong support from one of her State’s largest newspapers, the San Francisco Chronicle.” (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 10/22/2003)

Senate Democrats filibustered Janice Rogers Brown’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003, despite her nomination receiving bipartisan majority support, and backed down only after a nuclear option showdown in 2005. (PN839, Roll Call Vote #452: Motion rejected 53-43: D 2-42; R 51-0; I 0-1, 11/14/2003“Fourteen Senators Reach Deal on Filibuster,” The Washington Post, 5/23/2005)

Then-Justice Brown Was The Subject Of A Racist Cartoon Attacking Her

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): “California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown … a daughter of sharecroppers and the segregated South, overcame racism to rise to the top of California’s legal profession. Yet one senator called her views ‘despicable.’ A liberal publication labeled her ‘a Jim Crow-era judge, in natural blackface,’ and published a series of racist cartoons against her and other prominent black Republicans. The chairman of the NAACP said that the cartoons were ‘money well spent.’” (Sen. Cornyn, Op-Ed, “Obstruction and Destruction Plague Judicial Nominees,” Los Angeles Times, 11/12/2003)

THEN-SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): “[Justice Brown] is a conservative African-American woman, and for some that alone disqualifies her nomination to the D.C. Circuit, widely considered a stepping stone to the United States Supreme Court…. [A]n example of how Justice Brown’s attackers will sink to smear a qualified African-American jurist who does not parrot their ideology. It is a vicious cartoon filled with bigotry that maligns not only Justice Brown, but others as well--Justice Thomas, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice. It is pathetic, and it is the utmost in bigotry that I have seen around here in a long time. I hope that everyone here considers that cartoon offensive and despicable. I certainly do. It appeared on a website called BlackCommentator.com.” (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 10/22/2003)

THEN-JUSTICE JANICE ROGERS BROWN: “I was not going to make a statement, but something has come up that I think I should respond to. I was not going to bring up that cartoon, but since a lot of people have, there is something that I would like to say. The first thing that happened was I talked to my judicial assistant yesterday. Her voice sounded very strange, and I said to her, ‘What is wrong? What is happening?’ And I realized that she sounded strange because she was choking back tears. And when I asked her what was wrong, she really started to cry. She is a very composed, very calm woman, and she started to cry, and she said, ‘Oh, Judge, these horrible things, you haven’t seen what they’ve done.’ And I, of course, was not there to comfort her. I have been here meeting with anybody who would meet with me, but while I have been having those meetings, people have said to me, ‘Well, you know, it’s not personal. It’s just politics. It’s not personal.’ And I just want to say to you that it is personal. It’s very personal to the nominees and to the people who care about them. I have dealt with hatred and bigotry in my life, and I can’t tell you how distressing I find it to see this cartoon, which is intended to be so demeaning to a group of black people, and to know that it was circulated by other black people. But like the other Senators have noted, I have always argued that the First Amendment permits this kind of expression, no matter how offensive, and I haven’t changed my mind just because it’s been directed to me. I had not seen the cartoon when I was talking to her, and I asked my husband, ‘Well, what is it? What does it say?’ And he said, ‘Well, there’s Colin Powell.’ And I said, ‘Colin Powell is in this cartoon?’ And he said, ‘Yes, and Condoleezza Rice.’ I said, ‘I’m in a cartoon with Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice? Wow. I’m in good company.’ So I am going to look at this as an unwitting compliment to me and not focus on the vicious motivation for it, and that’s all I wanted to say.” (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 10/22/2003)

House Democrats Attacked Then-Justice Brown And Kept Derogatorily Comparing Her To Clarence Thomas

DEL. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D-DC): “[W]e [the Congressional Black Caucus] don’t have a press conference on each one of these judges. This is very unusual for us and the judge has to be particularly unacceptable for the whole caucus to come forward unanimously to say, ‘no,’ and that’s what we’re doing today…. [W]e think [Janice Rogers Brown] is particularly unfit to sit on the federal bench anywhere, but certainly in the District of Columbia, where judges have often been groomed for the United States Supreme Court, as Clarence Thomas was from this very bench…. She’s cut from the same mold as Clarence Thomas. In one unanimous voice, we say that we will do what we have to do to see that this judge is rejected for the D.C. Circuit or for the federal bench anywhere.” (Del. Norton, Press Conference, 10/17/2003)

THEN-REP. DIANE WATSON (D-CA): “I am pleased to be joined by the Congressional Black Caucus in opposing the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown…. As you know, the Congressional Black Caucus has come out consistently against many extreme judicial nominations, however, this Bush nominee has such an atrocious civil rights record, that Clarence Thomas would look like Thurgood Marshall in comparison.” (Rep. Watson, Press Conference, 10/17/2003)

Despite Her Clear Qualifications And Broad Support, Senate Democrats Filibustered Priscilla Owen’s Nomination To The 5th Circuit Court Of Appeals FOUR TIMES

Justice Priscilla Owen had sterling legal credentials, was widely respected in Texas, and was endorsed by multiple former Democrat Texas Supreme Court Justices as well as the editorial boards of The Dallas Morning News and The Washington Post. (“Judge Priscilla Owen,” George W. Bush White House Archive Website, May 25, 2005)

Despite then-Justice Priscilla Owen’s manifest qualifications and credentials, Senate Democrats filibustered her nomination to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals FOUR TIMES in 2003 even though she received majority bipartisan support for each vote and relented only after a nuclear option showdown in 2005. (PN11, 108th Congress; PN11, Roll Call Vote #137: Motion rejected 52-44: D 2-43; R 50-0; I 0-1, 5/01/2003; PN11, Roll Call Vote #144: Motion rejected 52-45: D 2-44; R 50-0; I 0-1, 5/08/2003; PN11, Roll Call Vote #308: Motion rejected 53-43: D 2-42; R 51-0; I 0-1, 7/29/2003; PN11, Roll Call Vote #450: Motion rejected 53-42: D 2-41; R 51-0; I 0-1, 11/14/2003; “Fourteen Senators Reach Deal on Filibuster,” The Washington Post, 5/23/2005)


2017-2020: Having Short-Sightedly Ended The Filibuster For Judicial Nominations, Democrats Still Attacked And Refused To Support History-Making Republican Minority Judicial Nominees

“Some of the top Democrat senators expected to be involved in advancing President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee – who Biden promised would be a Black woman – voted against the vast majority of former President Donald Trump’s appeals court nominees who were not white men. According to an analysis from the right-leaning Article III Project, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., voted against 95% of minority appeals court nominees from Trump. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., meanwhile, voted against 81% of such nominees, according to the analysis. And Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., one of the most vocal members of the Judiciary Committee, voted against 71% of Trump’s minority appeals court nominees. The analysis by the Article III Project also identifies dozens of other minority federal court nominees from Trump and former President George W. Bush that at least one the three senators opposed.” (“Schumer, Durbin, And Whitehouse Voted Against Vast Majority Of Trump Minority Appeals Court Nominees,” Fox News, 2/21/2022)

Not A Single Democrat Voted For 5 Different Asian-American Judicial Nominees

No Democrat voted for Neomi Rao’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, despite her being the first South Asian woman to serve on a federal appeals court. (PN247, Roll Call Vote #44: Nomination Confirmed 53-46, R 53-0, D 0-44, I 0-2, 3/13/2019; “Senate Sends Michigan Native Rao To Federal Bench,” The Detroit News, 3/13/2019)

  • SENATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “Ms. Neomi Rao, despite her experience, might even be worse. … And that’s to say nothing of Ms. Rao’s alarming views. … Honestly, where do my Republican colleagues find these people? The majority party always nominates judges that have a particular bent, we know that. But the Trump administration’s nominees, by and large, are not mainstream conservatives, they’re right-wing ideologues. Many of whom lack the experience, candor, and moderation we’d expect in a public servant, let alone a lifetime judge. A few of these judge’s sole qualification is not there judicial experience, is not their knowledge or erudition, but they’re active members of the Federalist Society.” (Sen. Schumer, Remarks, 3/11/2019)
  • SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), Then-Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member: “The bottom line is this. Ms. Rao has minimal practical experience in the law. Her legal views are beyond extreme, and her personal views, as reflected in her own personal writings, are deeply troubling. I would like to say to the President and those who are in charge of picking his nominees: Please, isn’t there a good Republican conservative somewhere in this area who has actually been in a courtroom, who has actually made an appearance in a case, who has maybe even tried a case, who has maybe even filed a motion, or who would know a courthouse if they saw it and not on television? Is that too much to ask for a lifetime appointment to the second highest court in the land? This nominee may be ideologically perfect for somebody who decided she was destined for this court, but this nomination is not a perfection when it comes to the legal system in America. It is an imperfection, which, if approved by the Senate, is going to be with us for a lifetime.” (Sen. Durbin, Congressional Record, S1787, 3/12/2019)

No Democrat voted for Michael Park’s nomination to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, despite him being the first Korean American to serve on that court. (PN245, Roll Call Vote #106: Nomination Confirmed 52-41, R 52-0, D 0-39, I 0-2, 5/9/2019; The Washington Times, 2/13/2019)

  • SCHUMER: “This afternoon, the Senate will vote debate on the nomination of Michael Park to the Second Circuit. A quick overview of Mr. Park’s experience reveals some pretty outlandish views. … Since the Second Circuit covers my home state of New York, I met with Mr. Park to try to understand why he was being nominated for a lifetime position as a Circuit judge. Frankly, his principal qualification seems to be that he’s a card-carrying member of the Federalist Society. Mr. Park has little experience and little judicial background. He’s an ideologue. He doesn’t have the kind of balance and integrity and compassion and understanding on both sides that any judge needs. It will become obvious to anyone who reviews his record that he lacks the breadth and objectivity that we prize in our judges. But my Republican friends, like Leader McConnell, have a singular goal to remake the federal bench in their image. So Federalist stooges like Mr. Park, who aren’t qualified for a District Court, are being rammed through as Circuit Court judges.” (Sen. Schumer, Remarks, 5/8/2019)

No Democrat voted for Kenneth Lee’s nomination to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. (PN373, Roll Call Vote #110: Nomination Confirmed 52-45, R 52-0, D 0-43, I 0-2, 5/15/2019)

  • SCHUMER: “Here’s another one: Kenneth Lee of California. His past writings reveal shocking positions on race and diversity, affirmative action/educational opportunity, women’s reproductive freedom. … That’s a man who should be on the bench? Mr. Lee, if confirmed today, may preside over cases dealing with gender discrimination.” (Sen. Schumer, Remarks, 5/15/2019)

No Democrat voted for Amul Thapar’s nomination to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, despite him becoming the first South Asian Article III judge in U.S. history when he was previously confirmed as a district judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky. (PN105, Roll Call Vote #137: Nomination Confirmed 52-44, R 52-0, D 0-42, I 0-2, 5/25/2017; “Hon. Amul R. Thapar,” Federalist Society Website, Accessed 3/17/2022)

No Democrat voted for Patrick Bumatay’s nomination to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, despite him being the first Filipino American appellate judge and the first openly gay judge to serve on that court. (PN1167, Roll Call Vote #387: Nomination Confirmed 53-40, R 53-0, D 0-39, I 0-1, 12/10/2019; National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Press Release, 12/10/2019)

Over 40 Democrats Opposed Two Others

43 Democrats voted against James Ho’s nomination to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, despite him being the first Asian American to serve on that court. (PN1108, Roll Call Vote #317: Nomination Confirmed 53-43, R 50-0, D 3-41, I 0-2, 12/14/2017; National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Press Release, 12/14/2017)

45 Democrats voted against John Nalbandian’s nomination to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. (PN1526, Roll Call Vote #95: Nomination Confirmed 53-45, R 50-0, D 3-43, 0-2, 5/15/2018)


1991: Joe Biden Presided Over The Shameful And Infamous ‘High-Tech Lynching’ At Justice Clarence Thomas’s Confirmation Hearing

‘Biden Drew Criticism From Both Sides During The Controversial Clarence Thomas Confirmation’

“As [Senate Judiciary] committee chairman from 1987 to 1995, and ranking member from 1981 to 1987 and again from 1995 to 1997, Biden presided over some of the most notorious confirmation hearings of the era… [In 1991], Biden drew criticism from both sides during the controversial Clarence Thomas confirmation. Thomas described Biden’s convoluted questions as ‘beanballs,’ while liberal and feminist groups came out against Biden for blocking some testimony related to Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment.” (“Biden’s History On Senate Judiciary Committee Could Come Back To Haunt Him,” Washington Examiner, 2/4/2022)

JUAN WILLIAMS, Then-Washington Post Writer: “The phone calls came throughout September. Did Clarence Thomas ever take money from the South African government? Was he under orders from the Reagan White House when he criticized civil rights leaders? Did he beat his first wife? Did I know anything about expense account charges he filed for out-of-town speeches? Did he say that women don’t want equal pay for equal work? And finally, one exasperated voice said: ‘Have you got anything on your tapes we can use to stop Thomas.’ The calls came from staff members working for Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. … The desperate search for ammunition to shoot down Thomas has turned the 102 days since President Bush nominated him for a seat on the Supreme Court into a liberal’s nightmare. Here is indiscriminate, mean-spirited mudslinging supported by the so-called champions of fairness: liberal politicians, unions, civil rights groups and women’s organizations. They have been mindlessly led into mob action against one man by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.” (“Open Season On Clarence Thomas,” The Washington Post, 10/10/1991)

  • WILLIAMS: “To listen to or read some news reports on Thomas over the past month is to discover a monster of a man, totally unlike the human being full of sincerity, confusion, and struggles whom I saw as a reporter who watched him for some 10 years. He has been conveniently transformed into a monster about whom it is fair to say anything, to whom it is fair to do anything. …the liberals have become the abusive monsters.” (“Open Season On Clarence Thomas,” The Washington Post, 10/10/1991)

SEN. McCONNELL: ‘The Whole Thing Was Disgraceful’ And ‘Established A Dangerous Precedent In Which Anonymous Character Assassination Can Be An Effective Means Of Short-Circuiting The Nomination Process’

SEN. MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “Mr. President, the American people are angry. They are angry at the whole sorry spectacle of Clarence Thomas, Anita Hill, and dozens of witnesses being paraded before the Nation to discuss allegations that would not have been public but for a zealous staffer or Senator who was determined to stop Clarence Thomas’ nomination--at any cost. And what a cost it was. The Senate paid the price. Public confidence in us was already precarious, after the leak we may have hit a new low. Clarence Thomas paid the price. His character was dragged through the mud. He was impugned beyond anything he could have imagined three months ago when the President nominated him, or three weeks ago--before the leak…. The entire Nation paid the price. Hours upon hours of televised hearings which would resolve nothing conclusively. The whole country was a jury and they were unanimous in one verdict--the whole thing was disgraceful.” (Sen. McConnell, Congressional Record, S.15125, 10/24/1991)

  • Whoever leaked the confidential FBI documents established a dangerous precedent in which anonymous character assassination can be an effective means of short-circuiting the nomination process…. This effort to sabotage the nomination of Clarence Thomas damaged the integrity and esteem of the U.S. Senate.” (Sen. McConnell, Congressional Record, S.15125, 10/24/1991)

JUSTICE THOMAS: ‘It Is A National Disgrace,’ ‘A High-Tech Lynching’

THEN-JUDGE CLARENCE THOMAS: “This is not an opportunity to talk about difficult matters privately or in a closed environment. This is a circus. It is a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, as far as I am concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity-blacks who in any way deign to think for them-selves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that, unless you kow-tow to an old order, this is what will happen to you, you will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate, rather than hung from a tree.” (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 10/11/1991)

“Justice Clarence Thomas is joining public criticism of Joe Biden whose handling of Thomas’ 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings when he was a senator has been a flash point in the former vice president’s 2020 presidential campaign. In a forthcoming documentary… Thomas lashes out at Democrats and Biden, who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee and oversaw his confirmation process.” (“Justice Clarence Thomas Rebukes Biden-Led Confirmation Hearings In New Film,” ABC News, 11/28/2019)

JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: “I felt as though in my life I had been looking at the wrong people as the people who would be problematic toward me. We were told that, ‘Oh, it’s gonna be the bigot in the pickup truck; it’s gonna be the Klansmen; it’s gonna be the rural sheriff… But it turned out that through all of that, ultimately the biggest impediment was the modern day liberal… They were the ones who would discount all those things because they have one issue or because they have the power to caricature you.” (“Justice Clarence Thomas Rebukes Biden-Led Confirmation Hearings In New Film,” ABC News, 11/28/2019)



Related Issues: Supreme Court, Judicial Nominations, Senate Democrats