Sen. Durbin’s Selective Amnesia

Durbin Laments The Increasing Partisanship Around Supreme Court Nominations But Ignores His Own Leading Role Shattering A Number Of Senate Precedents That Have Made Judicial Nominations Much More Partisan

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): “It has been recounted earlier that Justice Ginsburg was approved by the Senate by a 96-3 vote. This icon of liberal thinking, advocate for the ACLU, 96-3 before the United States Senate. And then, Antonin Scalia, on the opposite polar end of the political spectrum, approved 98-0. Amazing. Can this be the same Senate? It’s not. The reason those votes were so overwhelming was because people lived by the rules, they lived by the traditions of the Senate, and they had mutual respect for one another.” (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 10/12/2020)


Since Justice Breyer Was Confirmed In 1994, Sen, Durbin Repeatedly Joined With Senate Democrats To Sweep Away ‘The Traditions Of The Senate’ On 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: “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)

2003: Democrats, including Durbin, filibustered Miguel Estrada’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals seven times:

  1. (PN6, Roll Call Vote #40: Cloture Not Invoked 55-44: R 51-0; D 4-43; I 0-1, 3/6/2003, Durbin voted Nay)
  2. (PN6, Roll Call Vote #53: Cloture Not Invoked 55-42: R 51-0; D 4-41; I 0-1, 3/13/2003, Durbin voted Nay)
  3. (PN6, Roll Call Vote #56: Cloture Not Invoked 55-45: R 51-0; D 4-44; I 0-1, 3/18/2003, Durbin voted Nay)
  4. (PN6, Roll Call Vote #114: Cloture Not Invoked 55-44: R 51-0; D 4-43; I 0-1, 4/02/2003, Durbin voted Nay)
  5. (PN6, Roll Call Vote #140: Cloture Not Invoked 52-39: R 49-0; D 3-38; I 0-1, 5/05/2003, Durbin voted Nay)
  6. (PN6, Roll Call Vote #143: Cloture Not Invoked 54-43: R 50-0; D 4-42; I 0-1, 5/08/2003, Durbin voted Nay)
  7. (PN6, Roll Call Vote #312: Cloture Not Invoked 55-43: R 51-0; D 4-42; I 0-1, 7/30/2003, Durbin voted Nay)

“Miguel Estrada, whose nomination by President Bush to an important federal appeals court post was blocked by an extraordinary filibuster mounted by senate democrats, gave up his two-year struggle today.” (“Stymied By Democrats In Senate, Bush Court Pick Finally Gives Up,” The New York Times, 9/05/2003)

2006: Durbin joined Sens. Schumer, Biden, Obama, Clinton, Feinstein, and Leahy in attempting to filibuster Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court. (PN1059, Roll Call Vote #1: Cloture Motion Agreed To 72/25, R 53-0, D 19-24, I 0-1, Durbin Voted Nay)

ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: “And my question then is, can you filibuster on judicial philosophy alone?”
THEN-SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE): “Absolutely.” (ABC’s “This Week,” 11/06/2005)

  • Q: “Senator Kerry wants a filibuster. Do you support the senator’s filibuster?”
    “If there is any possibility of keeping the judge off the bench, I would support that
    , because I don’t think he should go on the bench, because of his vast, vast expansive view of the president’s power.” (CNN’s “American Morning,” 1/27/2006)

2013: Durbin joined Schumer and almost every other Senate Democrat in voting for the nuclear option to eliminate the very filibusters of judicial nominees they had used when they were in the minority. (PN527, Roll Call Vote #242: Decision of Chair Not Sustained 48-52, R 45-0, D 3-50, I 0-2, 11/21/2013, Durbin Voted Nay)

2017: Durbin joined Schumer and almost every other Senate Democrat in voting for the first partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee in Senate history. (PN55, Roll Call Vote #105: Motion rejected 55-45: R 51-1; D 4-42; I 0-2, 4/06/2017, Durbin voted Nay)

  • “More than 40 Democratic senators announced that they intend to filibuster the nomination to prevent it from coming to a vote on the floor — a move not seen for a Supreme Court nominee in half a century.” (The Boston Globe, 4/03/2017)
  • “Forty-one Democratic senators have now publicly announced that they will vote against ending debate this week on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. That means Republicans cannot at this time clear the 60-vote threshold needed to proceed to an up-or-down vote on the nomination…. Republicans said that the Gorsuch nomination marks the first partisan filibuster in the nation’s history …” (NPR, 4/03/2017)



Related Issues: Judicial Nominations, Senate Democrats