A fed-up Elizabeth Warren called out Republicans’ “naked attempts to nullify the results of the last presidential election” and warned of payback in the mode of filibuster reform if they keep blocking all of Obama’s judicial nominees.
“Republicans may not like Wall Street reform. They may not like Obamacare. But Congress passed those laws,” Warren said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “President Obama ran for reelection on those laws, while his opponent pledged to repeal them–and his opponent lost by nearly five million votes. It is not up to judges to overturn those laws or their associated regulations just because they don’t fit those judges’ policy preferences.”
President Obama has been batting 0 for 3 to get his Democratic candidates (all women) onto the D.C. Circuit Court, the nation’s second most powerful bench.
On Tuesday, Senate Republicans blocked the nomination of Nina Pillard. She had been under fire by conservatives for her pro-choice views on abortion. Less than two weeks ago, Republicans pulled out the same tactics by filibustering the nomination of Patricia Millett–a person even Ted Cruz considered fit for the job. And before that it was Caitlin Halligan who fell victim to another GOP filibuster earlier in the year. It’s a pattern.
“The powerful interests that work to rig the Supreme Court also want to rig the lower courts,” said Warren. “The D.C. Circuit is a particular target because that court has the power to overturn agency regulations.”
Three slots remain open on U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Adding Democratic nominees to the bench would shift the balance of power to be less conservative–something Republicans’ do not want to see happen.
Warren signaled there could be a fight ahead on filibuster rules if the GOP keeps holding Obama’s court nominations hostage.
“Senators not only have a right to change the filibuster rules, senators have a duty to change the filibuster rules. We cannot turn our backs on the Constitution,” she said. “We have a responsibility to protect and defend our democracy, and that includes protecting the neutrality of our courts–and preserving the Constitutional power of the president to nominate highly qualified people to fill their vacancies.”
Funny how things change: at least 12 of the senators who voted to block Pillard argued, during the George W. Bush administration that filibustering court nominees was unconstitutional.