‘Nothing Is Off The Table’

FLASHBACK: Senate Democrats Changed ‘The Ground Rules’ On Judicial Nominations; First EVER Partisan Filibuster Of A Supreme Court Justice


Current Judiciary Committee members Sens. Leahy, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) participated in the first-ever attempt at a partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee, Samuel Alito. (PN1059, Roll Call Vote #1: Motion Passed 72-25: R 53-0; D 19-24; I 0-1, 1/30/2006, Leahy voted Nay)

  • “Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California say they will join the Massachusetts senators in backing the filibuster.” (CNN, 1/27/2006)

“As the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member, Leahy helped lead filibusters against a number of Bush appeals court nominees …” (“Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),” Politico, 10/09/2009)

  • “Leahy … and Schumer voted to block votes on 10 of Bush’s judicial nominees in 2003 and 2004.” (MSNBC.com, 4/26/2005)


In The Early 2000s, Democrats ‘Change The Ground Rules,’ Invented Routine Judicial Filibusters For Lower Court Nominees, & Filibustered 10 Judicial Nominations

2001: “Forty-two of the Senate's 50 Democrats attended a private retreat this weekend in Farmington, Pa., where a principal topic was forging a unified party strategy to combat the White House on judicial nominees. The senators listened to a panel composed of Prof. Laurence H. Tribe of Harvard Law School, Prof. Cass M. Sunstein of the University of Chicago Law School and Marcia R. Greenberger, the co-director of the National Women's Law Center, on the need to scrutinize judicial nominees more closely than ever. ... ‘They said it was important for the Senate to change the ground rules and there was no obligation to confirm someone just because they are scholarly or erudite,’ a person who attended said.” (“Democrats Readying For Judicial Fight,” The New York Times, 5/1/2001)

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, 11/1/2003)

Ten of President Bush’s judicial nominations encountered a total of 21 attempted filibusters over a period of two years in 2003 and 2004. (“Cloture Attempts On Nominations: Data And Historical Development,” Congressional Research Service, 6/26/2013)

  1. Miguel Estrada:       one, two, three, four, five, six, seven
  2. Charles Pickering:   one
  3. William Pryor:          one, two
  4. Priscilla Owen:        one, two, three, four
  5. Carolyn Kuhl:          one, two
  6. Janice Brown:         one
  7. William Myers:         one
  8. David McKeague:    one
  9. Henry Saad:            one
  10. Richard Griffin:        one


In 2006 Democrats Escalated Again & Attempted To Filibuster Judge Samuel Alito’s Nomination To The Supreme Court

25 Democrats, including Sens. Obama, Clinton, Leahy, Schumer, and others voted to filibuster the nomination  of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to be a Supreme Court Justice. (PN1059, Roll Call Vote #1: Motion Passed 72-25: R 53-0; D 19-24; I 0-1, 1/30/2006)

President Obama is the “first US President to have ever voted to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee.” (“First President In US History To Have Voted To Filibuster A Supreme Court Nominee Now Hopes For Clean Process,” ABC News, 5/30/2009)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “Nothing is off the table.” “Asked whether Democrats might filibuster Alito's nomination, New York Democrat Charles Schumer would not rule that out. SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER (Democrat, New York): It's too early to tell. Nothing is on the table, and nothing is off the table.” (NPR’s “All Things Considered, 10/31/2005)



Related Issues: Judicial Nominations, Nominations, History, Senate Democrats