Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell speaks to members of the media after the weekly Senate Republican Policy Committee luncheon on December 17, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
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Playing games with judicial nominees

Last week, the Senate confirmed Pedro A. Delgado Hernandez to the federal district court bench, 98 to 0. And while the rare display of bipartisanship was nice, the arguably more interesting vote came a few hours prior, when the Senate held a “cloture” vote to end debate on Hernandez’s nomination.
 
That vote was far closer – 57 to 41, with nearly every Republican in the chamber that afternoon voting, in effect, to filibuster Hernandez, whom they voted unanimously to confirm later that same day.
 
The same thing happened again this week. On Tuesday, Senate Republicans voted to block Carolyn McHugh’s nomination to the 10th Circuit. Today, the Senate voted to confirm McHugh with another 98-0 vote.
 
Why are Senate Republicans voting to block judicial nominees they support? As Sahil Kapur explained, because they can.
Welcome to a brave new era of trolling in the post-nuclear Senate.
 
Senate Republicans voted unanimously to confirm three judicial nominees on Wednesday after over 41 of them of them attempted – and failed – to filibuster each of them the previous day.
 
The final votes were 98-0, 98-0 and 97-0, respectively, on Carolyn B. McHugh to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Matthew Leitman to be a Michigan district judge, and Judith Ellen Levy to be a Michigan district judge. If Republicans hadn’t objected to up-or-down votes on the nominees on Tuesday, the Senate wouldn’t have had to waste a day to confirm the three picks.
Quite right. There’s no substantive reason for Senate Republicans to filibuster nominees they support, but they’re doing it anyway, over and over again, to deliberately waste time and annoy Senate Democrats. Why? Because Democrats restored majority-rule votes on judicial nominees last fall.
 
The GOP minority, to register its dissatisfaction, is bringing a junior-high-style temperament to the U.S. Senate.
 
“It’s craven and petty,” a Senate Democratic leadership aide told Kapur. “All they are doing is validating the November change in the eyes of the caucus and making reformers’ case that further changes may be necessary. It’s a short-sighted reaction that they will likely come to regret, if they don’t stop it soon.”
 
It’s also worth keeping in mind that McHugh’s confirmation to the 10th Circuit is important for ideological reasons. Going into today, there were 10 judges on the 10th Circuit, half were nominated by Democratic presidents, half from Republican presidents. With McHugh joining the bench, the balance shifts slightly.
 

Federal Courts, Federal Judiciary, Judicial Nominees and Nuclear Option

Playing games with judicial nominees