The Corner

Handy Guide to The Senate Marathon

From the Committee for Justice, debunking some of the Dems claims:

WASHINGTON, DC – As the Senate undertook its historic all-hours debate of the minority’s unprecedented use of the filibuster to deny the President’s nominees final votes, the Committee for Justice responded to some senators initial arguments, made at a pre-debate press conference.


Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD):

“The use of the filibuster is not unprecedented; there have been numerous votes on cloture on judges in recent years.”


Define filibuster, Senator. A filibuster occurs when attempts to limit debate (either by unanimous consent or cloture motion) fails, not when they succeed. Holding a cloture vote is hardly the same as the permanent blockage of a nominee. Under the proper definition, prior to the 108th Congress, there were four filibusters against judicial nominations, including one Clinton nomination.

The Senate took 15 cloture votes on 14 different nominations (four of them Clinton nominations).

Eleven of those cloture votes passed, and those nominations were confirmed. Three of these were on Clinton nominations. These, by definition, were not filibusters. Four cloture votes failed. These were filibusters.

However, three of these were temporary filibusters, and the nominations were later confirmed.

***One of them was on a Clinton nomination, Brian T. Stewart nominated to the U.S. District Court. He was filibustered by Democrats, not Republicans. The 55-44 vote on cloture on 9/21/99 was to leverage confirmation of more Clinton nominees, which Republicans agreed to and Stewart was confirmed 93-5 on 10/5/99.

***The cloture vote on J. Harvie Wilkinson’s nomination to the 4th Circuit on 7/31/84 failed, but a second cloture on 8/9/84 passed and he was soon confirmed.

***The cloture vote on William Rehnquist’s nomination to be Associate Justice on 12/10/71 failed, but he was confirmed the same day without having to take a second cloture vote.

***The cloture vote on Abe Fortas’s nomination to be Chief Justice on 10/1/68 failed on a vote of 45-43. This means he did not have support of a majority in the Senate, and the 43 votes for the filibuster included 24 Republicans and 19 Democrats. The vote of cloture functioned as a test vote on his nomination, and President Johnson quickly withdrew the nomination. He was not blocked by the minority.

Thus, the filibusters during the 108th Congress are absolutely unprecedented. They are the first permanent (as opposed to temporary) filibusters against nominations with majority (as opposed to minority) Senate support.


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