Bench Memos

Cloture Defeated on Halligan Nomination

The Senate has just defeated the cloture petition on Caitlin Halligan’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit. Sixty votes were needed for cloture. The petition received only 54 votes in support and 45 votes against. (I believe that Senator Murkowski of Alaska was the only Republican to support cloture, but I’ll confirm that when I see the roll-call vote.) [Update: Here’s the roll-call vote. Murkowski was the only Republican yes vote. (Senator Hatch voted present, which is the functional equivalent of a no vote.)]

By their unprecedented resort to the filibuster against President Bush’s judicial nominees beginning in 2003 and by their opposition in 2005 to cloture reform, Senate Democrats paved the way for today’s result. Indeed, it’s worth noting that Senate Democrats first deployed the filibuster against D.C. Circuit nominee Miguel Estrada (who, like Halligan, was unanimously rated “well qualified” by the ABA). Seven separate cloture petitions on the Estrada nomination were defeated between March and July 2003, and only four Senate Democrats voted for cloture.

As I have said repeatedly over the years, I would favor the permanent abolition of the use of the filibuster against judicial nominees. (My consistent position since the launch of Bench Memos in 2005 is that the filibuster of judicial nominees is constitutionally permissible but a bad practice.) But, to repeat what I’ve said before, the only hope of getting to that goal of permanent abolition is for Republicans to make Democrats keenly aware that the costs of the filibuster can equally be inflicted on their nominees. Absent an entrenched bilateral agreement, Republican disavowal of the filibuster would be a sort of unilateral disarmament that would do nothing to deter Democrats from filibustering Republican nominees.

Most Popular

Culture

What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Lessons of the Mueller Probe

Editor’s Note: The following is the written testimony submitted by Mr. McCarthy in connection with a hearing earlier today before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the Mueller Report (specifically, the first volume of the report, which addresses Russia’s interference in the 2016 ... Read More
Elections

Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More
World

Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?

What is going on with the unending Brexit drama, the aftershocks of Donald Trump’s election, and the “yellow vests” protests in France? What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections and ... Read More
Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More
White House

Sarah Sanders to Resign at End of June

Sarah Huckabee Sanders will resign from her position as White House press secretary at the end of the month, President Trump announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1139263782142787585 Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, succeeded Sean ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More