Stalling judicial nominations in the months prior to the potential selection of a new president has become a bipartisan tradition. But have Republicans jumped the gun and started stalling early?
John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, says “no.” Circuit Court nominations to date have proceeded on the same pace as in previous presidential election years. In 2004 the Senate had confirmed five circuit court judges by June. In 2008, it had by then confirmed four. Thus far in 20112, the Senate has confirmed five.
Last week Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared the Thurmond Rule to be in effect. Predictably, the left demonized the idea of filibustering judicial nominees.
But Senate Democrats don’t have a leg to stand on. As Barrasso notes, “Senate Democrats filibustered four circuit court nominees in July of 2004. During the debate on these nominations, Senator Leahy cited the ‘Thurmond Rule’ as part of the justification for filibustering them. Then again in 2008, Chairman Leahy refused to process altogether several outstanding circuit court nominees.”
The Thurmond Rule could easily be rechristened as the Leahy Rule. Either way you slice it, there is nothing wrong with the minority party obstructing lifetime appointments to the federal courts—especially when there is a good chance that the nominating president will be out of office come January.