Skip to comments.Democrats Thought it was Improper to Filibuster Judicial Nominees
Posted on 05/19/2005 8:17:55 AM PDT by Peach
Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) March 19, 1997: But I also respectfully suggest that everyone who is nominated is entitled to have a shot, to have a hearing and to have a shot to be heard on the floor and have a vote on the floor.
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois)September 28, 1998: We should meet our responsibility. I think that responsibility requires us to act in a timely fashion on nominees sent before us. ... Vote the person up or down.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) September 11, 1997: Lets bring their nominations up, debate them if necessary, and vote them up or down.
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts)February 3, 1998: We owe it to Americans across the country to give these nominees a vote. If our Republican colleagues dont like them, vote against them. But give them a vote.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) May 10, 2000: The Founding Fathers certainly intended that the Senate advise as to judicial nominations, i.e., consider, debate, and vote up or down. They surely did not intend that the Senate, for partisan or factional reasons, would remain silent and simply refuse to give any advice or consider and vote at all.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) 5/14/97 : It is not the role of the Senate to obstruct the process and prevent numbers of highly qualified nominees from even being given the opportunity for a vote on the Senate floor.
Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD): I find it simply baffling that a Senator would vote against even voting on a judicial nomination. (Congressional Record, 10/5/99)
Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD): Hispanic or non-Hispanic, African American or non-African American, woman or man, it is wrong not to have a vote on the Senate floor. (Congressional Record, 10/28/99)
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND): My expectation is that were not going to hold up judicial nominations. You will not see us do what was done to us in recent years in the Senate with judicial nominations. (Fox News Special Report With Brit Hume, 6/4/01)
Richard Durbin (D-IL) "If, after 150 days languishing on the Executive Calendar that name has not been called for a vote, it should be. Vote the person up or down." (Cong. Rec., 9/28/98, S11021)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): Lets bring their nominations up, debate them if necessary, and vote them up or down. (Congressional Record, 9/11/97)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): It is our job to confirm these judges. If we dont like them, we can vote against them. (Congressional Record, 9/16/99)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): Our institutional integrity requires an up-or-down vote. (Congressional Record, 10/4/99)
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA): [The filibuster process] is used as blackmail for one Senator to get his or her way on something that they could not rightfully win through the normal processes. (Congressional Record, 1/4/95)
Tom Harkin (D-IA) "Have the guts to come out and vote up or down .And once and for all, put behind us this filibuster procedure on nominations." (Cong. Rec., 6/22/95, S8861)
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA): I urge the Republican leadership to take the steps necessary to allow the full Senate to vote up or down on these important nominations. (Congressional Record, 9/11/00)
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA): We owe it to Americans across the country to give these nominees a vote. If our Republican colleagues dont like them, vote against them. But give them a vote. (Congressional Record, 2/3/98)
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA): It is true that some Senators have voiced concerns about these nominations. But that should not prevent a roll call vote which gives every Senator the opportunity to vote yes or no. ... Parties with cases, waiting to be heard by the federal courts deserve a decision by the Senate. (Congressional Record, 9/21/99)
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI): These nominees, who have to put their lives on hold waiting for us to act, deserve an up or down vote. (Congressional Record, 9/21/99)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT): I hope we will accept our responsibility and vote people up or vote them down. If we want to vote against them, vote against them. (Congressional Record, 10/22/97)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT): Now, every Senator can vote against any nominee. But it is the responsibility of the U.S. Senate to at least bring them to a vote. (Congressional Record, 10/22/97)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT): "I have stated over and over again that I would object and fight against any filibuster on a judge, whether it is somebody I opposed or supported (Congressional Record, 6/18/98)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT): [E]arlier this year I noted how improper it would be to filibuster a judicial nomination. (Congressional Record, 10/14/98)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT): [I]f the person is otherwise qualified, he or she gets the vote. Vote them up, vote them down. (Congressional Record, 9/21/99)
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV): [W]e should have up-or-down votes in the committee and on the floor. (CNNs Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields, 6/9/01)
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY): [W]e are charged with voting on the nominees. The Constitution does not say if the Congress is controlled by a different party than the President there shall be no judges chosen. (Congressional Record, 3/7/00)
Carl Levin (D-MI) "If a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate is prepared to vote to confirm the President's appointment, that vote should occur." (Cong. Rec., 6/21/95, S8806)
"I simply ask the United States Senate to heed this plea, and vote on the highly qualified judicial nominees before you, up or down."-- William Jefferson Clinton - State of the Union address 1998
I would not approve any judges, until the House and Senate repeal Unconstitutional laws.
Then I would publish a list of laws not to be enforced (Prosecutorial disgression guidance) until the judges ranks are back up. Of course that list of laws would be a good starting point for repeal legislation.
You don't want to get me going on this.
When Clinton was President, the GOP controlled the Senate most of the time and thus never had to filibuster. If you are the majority, you control when things come up for a vote. Majority matters.
Great list...shows the dims for the hypocrites that they are.
Let me add this gem of an article:
Time to Retire the Filibuster (NYT 1995)
The U.S. Senate likes to call itself the world's greatest deliberative body. The greatest obstructive body is more like it. In the last season of Congress, the Republican minority invoked an endless string of filibusters to frustrate the will of the majority. This relentless abuse of a time-honored Senate tradition so disgusted Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa, that he is now willing to forgo easy retribution and drastically limit the filibuster. Hooray for him.
For years Senate filibusters--when they weren't conjuring up romantic images of Jimmy Stewart as Mr. Smith, passing out from exhaustion on the Senate floor--consisted mainly of negative feats of endurance. Senator Sam Ervin once spoke for 22 hours straight. Outrage over these tactics and their ability to bring Senate business to a halt led to the current so-called two-track system, whereby a senator can hold up one piece of legislation while other business goes on as usual.
The two-track system has been nearly as obstructive as the old rules. Under those rules, if the Senate could not muster the 60 votes necessary to end debate and bring a bill to a vote, someone had to be willing to continue the debate, in person, on the floor. That is no longer required. Even if the 60 votes are not achieved, debate stops and the Senate proceeds with other business. The measure is simply put on hold until the next cloture vote. In this way a bill can be stymied at any number of points along its legislative journey.
One unpleasant and unforeseen consequence has been to make the filibuster easy to invoke and painless to pursue. Once a rarely used tactic reserved for issues on which senators held passionate convictions, the filibuster has become the tool of the sore loser, dooming any measure that cannot command the 60 required votes.
Mr. Harkin, along with Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat, now proposes to make such obstruction harder. Mr. Harkin says reasonably that there must come a point in the process where the majority rules. This may not sit well with some of his Democratic colleagues. They are now perfectly positioned to exact revenge by frustrating the Republican agenda as efficiently as Republicans frustrated Democrats in 1994.
Admirably, Mr. Harkin says he does not want to do that. He proposes to change the rules so that if a vote for cloture fails to attract the necessary 60 votes, the number of votes needed to close off debate would be reduced by three in each subsequent vote. By the time the measure came to a fourth vote--with votes occurring no more frequently than every second day--cloture could be invoked with only a simple majority. Under the Harkin plan, minority members who feel passionately about a given measure could still hold it up, but not indefinitely.
Another set of reforms, more incremental but also useful, is proposed by George Mitchell, who is retiring as the Democratic majority leader. He wants to eat away at some of the more annoying kinds of brakes that can be applied to a measure along its legislative journey.
One example is the procedure for sending a measure to a conference committee with the House. Under current rules, unless the Senate consents unanimously to send a measure to conference, three separate motions can be required to move it along. This gives one senator the power to hold up a measure almost indefinitely. Mr. Mitchell would like to reduce the number of motions to one.
He would also like to limit the debate on a motion to two hours and count the time consumed by quorum calls against the debate time of a senator, thus encouraging senators to save their time for debating the substance of a measure rather than in obstruction. All of his suggestions seem reasonable, but his reforms would leave the filibuster essentially intact.
The Harkin plan, along with some of Mr. Mitchell's proposals, would go a long way toward making the Senate a more productive place to conduct the nation's business. Republicans surely dread the kind of obstructionism they themselves practiced during the last Congress. Now is the perfect moment for them to unite with like-minded Democrats to get rid of an archaic rule that frustrates democracy and serves no useful purpose.
For shame! ;-)
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