Bench Memos

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Teddy Kennedy, Nonpartisan?


At the Senate Judiciary Committee mark-up last week on John Roberts’s nomination, Senator Kennedy sought to present his opposition to Roberts as not partisan in nature. As evidence, he stated, “In my 43 years in the United States Senate, I have supported more nominees for the Supreme Court by Republican presidents than by Democratic presidents.” The truth of Kennedy’s statement is not surprising, nor does it provide evidence of nonpartisanship, for one simple reason (for which Kennedy surely deserves some inadvertent credit): With action on Roberts this week, 15 Supreme Court nominees of Republican presidents will have received Senate floor votes during Kennedy’s years in the Senate, as compared to four Supreme Court nominees of Democratic presidents. (Here’s the full Senate history.)

According to a reader who has researched the matter, Kennedy’s previous seven votes against Supreme Court nominees (all of Republican presidents) is an all-time record in the history of the Senate. When he breaks his own record by voting “nay” against Judge Roberts, Kennedy will have voted for fewer than half of the Supreme Court nominees of Republican presidents.


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