Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Analyzing the Griffith Roll Call Vote


In the 73-24 vote confirming Thomas Griffith’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit, 20 Democrats voted for confirmation and 24 voted against. (Of the Republicans, 53 voted aye, and two weren’t present, and independent Jeffords also didn’t vote.)

It should come as no surprise to learn that Bayh, Byrd, Johnson, Landrieu, and Salazar were on one side, and Biden, Dodd, Durbin, Levin, and Schumer on the other. But what was a surprise—to me, at least—is that the former set of five more moderate Democrats voted against Griffith’s nomination, and the latter set of five very liberal Democrats voted for the nomination.

What might explain this? One theory would be that even liberal Democrats are learning that their obstructionism is hurting them politically. But they also know that their activist groups will go bonkers if there are too many Democrat votes for certain nominees. So the party leadership, in order to enable liberals to gain some political cover with their constituents by voting for Griffith, pressures more moderate Democrats to vote against.

Perhaps someone closer to the Griffith battle would have some insights on this theory or would have an alternative explanation for the bizarre vote pattern.


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