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Senate Majority Leader Reid Playing Politics With Nominations

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has tossed some red meat to his left wing base who have called for an end to the filibuster.  On Monday, Reid filed cloture on 17 district court nominations as a means to argue that Republicans are obstructing President Obama’s judicial nominations.  According to one Senate study, President Obama and President George W. Bush’s nominations are on the same pace. Reid’s allegations of Republican obstructionism are pure politics. 

Republicans are not obstructing Obama judges nor are they even filibustering any of these 17 judges today.  If you turn on CSPAN to view this Senate filibuster of 17 judges, you will be disappointed.  You will not see an extended debate of these 17 Obama nominations, yet will instead see a debate of the Senate highway bill or an extended quorum call. 

Reid is trying to trick the American people into thinking that Republicans are a bunch of obstructionists who are on the Senate floor filibustering judges and legislation.  I bet if you cornered all 100 Senators, including Reid, and asked them to recite the names of these 17 judges who are being “debated” this week, not one could get through even five of the names.  American politics is entering silly season and this fake filibuster is yet another example of the lengths some politicians will go to make a political point.

The Senate Republican Policy Committee (Senate RPC) put out a blog post today comparing the pace of Obama confirmations to President George W. Bush’s nominations.  Obama’s nominees are being confirmed at a similar pace to Bush’s.

President Obama already has more lower court confirmations (129) in three years of his presidency than President Bush had in his final four years (120). Supreme Court nominations require far more time and effort both by the Judiciary Committee and the rest of the Senate, and leave less time for consideration of other judges. That is why the fairest comparison is how each President fared during the presidential term in which he had Supreme Court nominations.

The Senate RPC  argues that even if you compare Bush’s first term to Obama’s current term in office, they both had about the same ratio of lower court confirmations — the same lower courts that Reid is trying to install 17 new justices.

In other words, although President Obama has fewer lower court confirmations than President Bush did in his first term, President Obama made far fewer judicial nominations in the first three years of his presidency than President Bush did in his first three years (173 versus 215). Considering the smaller number of nominations made by President Obama, as well as the considerable time spent processing his two Supreme Court nominees, it’s hard to see where President Obama is being treated unfairly. President Obama has had about the same number of lower court confirmations relative to the number of nominations he has made.

Here are the nominations by the numbers using the Senate RPC data.  

  • Average number of days from nomination to confirmation Bush 211 days — Obama 218 days;
  • For 83 judicial vacancies, the Obama Administration has made only 39 nominations;
  • There are 44 judicial vacancies without any nomination from the President;
  • 17 of 39 nominations are stuck in the Democrat controlled Senate Judiciary Committee; and,
  • 61 out of 83 current vacancies are either in the Obama White House (44) or Democrat controlled Senate Judiciary Committee (17).

As I wrote yesterday in my post Fake Filibuster Outrage From Left, there is no filibuster going on right now. 

These nominees were never blocked by any obstructionism.  They were never debated.  There has not been one word of debate on the Senate floor.  Furthermore, if many Republicans voted for the bulk of these nominees in the Senate Judiciary Committee, it is likely that they will pass pretty easily.  Reid is trying to break the back of Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) for objecting to President Obama’s unconstitutional recess appointment.

This fake battle over the filibuster this week will test the strength of Republicans in the face of a Senate Majority Leader Reid’s bullying tactics.  Conservatives will be looking to see if Republicans join Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) who has already stood up to the bully or back down.

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