Take Two-and-a-Half Minutes to See How Hypocritical Democrats Are on Filibustering Supreme Court Nominees

March 30, 2017

Numerous Senate Democrats have reversed themselves on prior oppositions to filibusters and preventing Supreme Court nominees from getting "up-or-down" votes as they try to block the nomination of Neil Gorsuch.

While they once decried the "tyranny of the minority" and the idea that judges could be blocked by the minority party, the Chuck Schumer-led party is changing course to stop President Trump's pick for the high court.

Under the threat from Democrats to vote against cloture, Republicans are preparing to invoke the "nuclear option" to give Gorsuch a 51-vote threshold in order to allow his nomination to go before the full Senate, where he is essentially certain to be confirmed by the GOP majority.

Democrats led by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) first invoked the "nuclear option" in 2013, which allowed President Obama to get his executive-branch and lower-court nominations through the chamber with just 51 votes. Liberals cheered the move as finally allowing the Democrat majority to rule.

Schumer was all about it at the time.

"We much prefer the risk of up-or-down votes in majority rule than the risk of continued total obstruction," he said in 2013. "That's the bottom line, no matter who's in power."

Now, he points to a so-called 60-vote threshold that Gorsuch must clear, even though no previous Supreme Court nominee has been successfully filibustered.

Sen. Tom Udall (D., N.M.) also supported the nuclear option maneuver by the Democrats in 2013, telling CNN there was a "tyranny of the minority" with Republicans blocking some of Obama's picks. Now, he's supporting a filibuster of Gorsuch.

So is Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.), who said in February she didn't know a single Democrat who wouldn't support giving Gorsuch a simple up-or-down vote.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) admitted in February that Gorsuch would be confirmed regardless of any Democratic moves but said she hoped her colleagues would give Gorsuch an up-or-down vote. She's filibustering along with Schumer now as well.

Sen. Cory Booker's (D., N.J.) hypocrisy is particularly noteworthy. As one of many Democrats who was furious that Republicans did not hold hearings for Obama's nominee Merrick Garland in 2016, Booker said last year that if a Republican held the White House, he would support giving that president's nominee an up-or-down vote.

"But I’m a big believer if the situations were reversed and there was a Republican President in the last year on the federal level, I would be calling, just like some Republican Senators have, I just listened to Senator Collins from Maine saying we should be giving this person a hearing, an up-or-down vote," he said. "To not do so is violative of the United States Constitution."

Faced with that very scenario in 2017 with the election of Trump, a Republican, Booker is not making good on his lofty words. He is backing Schumer's filibuster.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.), part of the unsuccessful Democratic ticket from 2016, told the Huffington Post last year that Democrats would do exactly what the Republicans are preparing to do with regard to the nuclear option in order to confirm a President Hillary Clinton's Supreme Court picks.

"If these guys think they’re going to stonewall the filling of that vacancy or other vacancies... then a Democratic Senate majority will say, ‘We’re not going to let you thwart the law," he said. "And we will change the Senate rules to uphold the law that the court will be nine members."

He feared the GOP allowing an eight-justice court to be the status quo. Now Kaine, too, is opposing Gorsuch and backing Schumer's filibuster.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) mourned GOP obstruction in a 2013 floor speech, saying Democrats had to "call out these filibusters for what they are."

"Naked attempts to nullify the results of the last presidential election," she said.

That election she's referring to was won by a Democrat, Barack Obama. With a Republican in the White House now, Warren is on the filibuster train as well.

At least they are all consistent.

For Obama's part, he saw this coming when he made a comment on the Democrats' use of the nuclear option during his administration.

"All too often, we've seen a single senator or a handful of senators choose to abuse arcane procedural tactics ... to prevent well-qualified, patriotic Americans from filling critical positions of public service in our system of government," he said.