The Corner

Politics & Policy

Schumer: Ignore My 2007 Speech on Judges

As many conservatives have noted in recent days, Senator Chuck Schumer said in 2007 that Senate Democrats should do what they could to keep President George W. Bush from confirming any more conservative justices to the Supreme Court. Now he’s explaining that today’s situation is completely unlike that one (h/t Susan Ferrechio).

The first step: mischaracterizing what he said. Here’s his retrospective spin: “What I said in the speech given in 2007 is simple: Democrats, after a hearing, should entertain voting no if the nominee is out of the mainstream and tries to cover that fact up.” Here’s what he actually said

We should reverse the presumption of confirmation. The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance. We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another Roberts; or Justice Ginsburg by another Alito.

Given the track record of this President and the experience of obfuscation at the hearings, with respect to the Supreme Court, at least: I will recommend to my colleagues that we should not confirm a Supreme Court nominee EXCEPT in extraordinary circumstances (emphasis in original).

He wasn’t saying that senators should “entertain voting no.” He was saying that they should almost certainly vote no.

The second step: making a big deal out of the distinction between rejecting a nominee and refusing to hold hearings on him.

There was no hint anywhere in the speech that there shouldn’t be hearings or a vote. . . .

​Every single senator has a right to vote no on any given nominee. . . . I’ve opposed some nominees who are out of the mainstream, my friends on the other side of the aisle have opposed some nominees they believe are out of the mainstream, and this pattern may well continue. But the wisdom of the Founding Fathers dictates that we should go through a full vetting and confirmation process so that we and the nation can determine whether these candidates are out of the mainstream even in this ideological era. 

So it would be perfectly fine for 51 senators to announce that they were highly unlikely to vote for anyone the president was likely to nominate–so long as they went through the motions of holding hearings and, maybe, a vote. (Schumer attempted to filibuster Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court, which is to say he attempted to block an up-or-down vote; and in his 2007 speech, he expressed regret that he had not done more to stop Alito’s confirmation.) But it’s imperative that the Senate go through the motions of holding hearings: It’s the “wisdom of the Founding Fathers,” don’t you know?

Schumer is a very talented politician; not many people could keep a straight face saying these things.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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