The Senate: ‘A Real Check, Not A Rubberstamp’

SEN. SCHUMER: ‘The Founding Fathers… Wanted The Senate, In Its Infinite Wisdom, To Be A Check—A Real Check, Not A Rubberstamp’


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): ‘The Founding Fathers… wanted the Senate, in its infinite wisdom, to be a check—a real check, not a rubberstamp’ “…the longer I am around, the more I respect the wisdom of our Founding Fathers. In their infinite wisdom, they wanted judges to interpret law, not make it; they wanted the Senate, in its infinite wisdom, to be a check—a real check, not a rubberstamp— . . .” (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S.14096, 11/6/03)


SEN. LEAHY: ‘The Constitution Expressly Speaks Of The Senate’s … Power To ‘Consent,’ Which Includes The Power To Withhold Such Consent’

SEN. PAT LEAHY (D-VT): ‘The Senate's role in the process is not secondary and is not confined simply to a vote. The Constitution expressly speaks of the Senate's … power to ‘consent,’ which includes the power to withhold such consent’ “The Constitution divides the appointment power between the President and the Senate and expects Senators to advise the President, not just rubber-stamp his choices. In fact, for most of the Constitutional Convention the Founders had assigned the constitutional power to appoint judges exclusively to the Senate. Toward the end of the convention, as part of the system of checks and balances, the appointment power was shared between the Senate and the President. Shortly afterward, William Maclay noted this in his famous journal: ‘Whoever attends strictly to the Constitution of the United States will readily observe that the part assigned to the Senate was an important one - no less than that of being the great check, the regulator and corrector, or, if I may so speak, the balance of this government. ...’ The Senate's role in the process is not secondary and is not confined simply to a vote. The Constitution expressly speaks of the Senate's authority to ‘advise’ as well as the power to ‘consent,’ which includes the power to withhold such consent.” (Sen. Leahy, Remarks At The National Press Club, 6/25/03)

  • LEAHY: “The Constitution, as we know, gives the Senate a central role in the confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice. Nothing in our makeup, nothing in the history of this country assumes that the Senate would be a rubber stamp for the President’s nominees. After all, it was the Senate that turned down some nominees of George Washington—the most popular President and the greatest President in this country’s history—because it would not be a rubber stamp. It was an overwhelmingly Democratically controlled Senate at the time of Franklin Roosevelt, and it was that Senate that said to Franklin Roosevelt: You cannot pack the Supreme Court. I have said, also, many times that the Senate should be the conscience of the Nation. After all, we are the only 100 people in this country of 295 million Americans who get a chance to vote on lifetime positions to the Supreme Court—people who will affect our personal rights for decades to come.” (Sen. Leahy, Congressional Record, S.238, 1/27/06)
  • LEAHY: “To preserve the independence of the judiciary, the Senate has served its time honored role as a check on the presidential appointment power. The Constitution says advice and consent, not rubber stamp.” (Sen. Leahy, Congressional Record, S.11830, 11/20/04)


SEN. REID: ‘Nowhere In That Document Does It Say The Senate Has A Duty To Give Presidential Nominees A Vote’

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “The duties of the United States Senate are set forth in the Constitution of the United States. Nowhere in that document does it say the Senate has a duty to give Presidential nominees a vote. It says appointments shall be made with the advice and consent of the Senate. That’s very different than saying every nominee receives a vote.” (Sen. Reid, Floor Remarks, 5/19/2005; VIDEO Here)

SEN. REID: ‘There Is Not A Number [Of Hours] In The Universe That Would Be Sufficient’ To Debate Some Nominees

SEN. BOB BENNETT (R-UT): “Mr. President, I ask if any number of hours [for debate on the Priscilla Owen nomination] would be sufficient for the Senator from Nevada.” SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “Speaking for the Senator from Nevada, there is not a number in the universe that would be sufficient.” (Sens. Bennett & Reid, Congressional Record, S.4949, 4/8/03)


SEN. BIDEN: ‘If The President … Presses An Election-Year Nomination, The Senate Judiciary Committee Should Seriously Consider Not Scheduling Confirmation Hearings On The Nomination’

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE): “The Senate, too, Mr. President, must consider how it would respond to a Supreme Court vacancy that would occur in the full throes of an election year. It is my view that if the President goes the way of Presidents Fillmore and Johnson and presses an election-year nomination, the Senate Judiciary Committee should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the political campaign season is over.” (Sen. Biden, Congressional Record, S.16317, 6/25/1992)



Related Issues: Supreme Court, Judicial Nominations, Senate Democrats