Faux Filibuster Foes

Once Strident Filibuster Foes Sens. Merkley & Udall Turn Outspoken Filibuster Cheerleaders

MSNBC’S CHRIS HAYES: “Are you going to filibuster Gorsuch?” SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): “Absolutely. Hundred percent.” HAYES: “Are you guys going to get to 40?” MERKLEY: “We are going to succeed in filibustering Gorsuch.” HAYES: “You think so?” MERKLEY: “Yes.” (MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes,” 3/30/2017)

SEN. TOM UDALL (D-NM): “Judge Gorsuch … I will vote no on his confirmation, including cloture.” (Sen. Udall, Press Release, 3/24/2017)

Sens. Merkley & Udall Led The Fight To Invoke The Nuclear Option In 2013, Decrying Filibusters ‘As An Instrument Of Partisan Politics’

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “Boy, if there were ever a time when Tom Udall and Jeff Merkley were prophetic, it is tonight. These two young, fine Senators said it was time to change the rules in the Senate. We did not. They were right. The rest of us were wrong or most of us anyway. What a shame. … I am finished. But I wish to say again for those who are listening here or watching, Senator Udall and Senator Merkley wanted to do something to change the rules regarding filibusters. If there was anything that ever needed changing in this body, it is the filibuster rule.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.3070, 5/10/12)

  • CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: “Joining me now is Senator Tom Udall, Democrat from New Mexico. And, Senator, it was you and Jeff Merkley, more than any other, too, who came to Harry Reid early on when you first got to the United States Senate and said we have to reform the filibuster…” SEN. TOM UDALL (D-NM): “I thought we were going to see this day, because this was a victory for democracy and we`ve returned to the Constitution, and I think it’s very important that we do that…” (MSNBC, 11/21/13)

“‘The filibuster, once used only on issues of personal principle, is now used regularly as an instrument of partisan politics,’ Merkley said. ‘It hurts our ability to take on the big challenges we face as Americans. And we need to fix it.’” (“Udall, Merkley And Harkin Unveil Filibuster-Reform Resolution,” The Hill, 1/04/13)

In 2013, Sens. Udall & Merkley Embraced The Nuclear Option

In 2013, Sens. Udall and Merkley both voted to change Senate precedent and eliminate filibusters for most judicial nominations. (On The Decision Of The Chair (Shall The Decision Of The Chair Stand As The Judgment Of The Senate? (Reid Appeal), Roll Call Vote #242, Decision Of Chair Not Sustained 48-52: D 3-50; R 45-0; I 0-2, 11/21/2013, Udall And Merkley Voted Nay)

Prior To The 2016 Election, Merkley Even Suggested ‘We’re Going To Have To Consider Rules Changes’ Regarding Supreme Court Nominations

“[Banning the filibuster on Supreme Court nominations] may be necessary next year if Hillary Clinton wins the White House and Democrats narrowly recapture the Senate …Senator Jeff Merkley told me from New Hampshire, where he was campaigning for Maggie Hassan. On the other hand, ‘If there’s deep abuse, we’re going to have to consider rules changes.” (David Sarasohn, “Will Democrats Nuke the Filibuster?,” The New Republic, 10/31/2016)

Sen. Udall Used To Say, ‘The Constitution Does Not Give Me The Right To Block A Qualified Nominee No Matter Who Is In The White House … A Minority In The Senate Should Not Be Able To Block Qualified Nominees’

SEN. TOM UDALL (D-NM): “One of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle said: We should be careful what we wish for; that is, majority rule could backfire, which might get more Justice Scalias. Well, that is exactly the point. The Constitution does not give me the right to block a qualified nominee no matter who is in the White House. The real norms and traditions of the Senate honor that principle. Some of us may disagree with Justice Scalia on judicial philosophy, but he was a qualified nominee. He received an up-or-down vote and he was unanimously confirmed. Likewise, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was considered liberal, the former ACLU general counsel. Many on the other side may have disagreed with her views, but there was no filibuster. She was confirmed by a vote of 96 to 3. A minority in the Senate should not be able to block qualified nominees.” (Sen. Udall, Congressional Record, S. 8296, 11/20/2013)

  • UDALL: “[T]his is not advise and consent; this is obstruct and delay. The people elect the President. They give him or her the right to select a team to govern and to appoint judges to the Federal bench. If those nominees are qualified, they deserve an up-or-down vote. That is how our democracy is intended to work. That is the mandate of our Constitution. That is the real tradition of the Senate. That is the way it is supposed to work.” (Sen. Udall, Congressional Record, S. 8296, 11/20/2013)
  • UDALL:I do not think there is any doubt in this country that on both sides--the Republican side and the Democratic side--the base pushes us hard. I think we have reached this stage of hyperpartisanship. I believe our job as leaders is to overcome that and to lead. Leading here means allowing the norms and traditions of the Senate to continue, and that would be an up-or-down vote on judicial nominees.” (Sen. Udall, Congressional Record, S. 8297, 11/20/2013)

Sen. Merkley Used To Assert ‘The Norms And Traditions Of The U.S. Senate Regarding Nominations … Is An Up-Or-Down Vote’

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): “[W]e cannot allow this process in which a minority says: When our President is in charge we are going to insist on up-or-down votes, but when a President of the other party is in charge, we are not going to allow those votes.” (Sen. Merkley, Congressional Record, S.8295, 11/20/2013)

  • MERKLEY: “Let's be clear: There should not be an ‘our President’ and ‘their President.’ The President is the President of the entire country, of the blue States and the red States, altogether. The judicial system serves all of us regardless of our party identities. It is our responsibility to make it work.” (Sen. Merkley, Congressional Record, S.8295, 11/20/2013)
  • MERKLEY: “[T]he Senate is broken... Our role of advice and consent has been turned into obstruct and delay in terms of nominations for the executive branch and the judiciary. We have a constitutional responsibility to express our opinion, but this body, by using the filibuster, has prevented Senators from advising and consenting, either approving or disapproving these nominations.” (Sen. Merkley, Congressional Record, S. 37, 1/05/2011)


Related Issues: Senate Democrats, Supreme Court, Nominations, Judicial Nominations