Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)–who, it’s important to note, will probably be the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee next Congress–is on the record saying the President should be given deference when selecting his nominees. In a 2005 New Yorker article, he told Jeffrey Toobin, “Filibusters are designed so that the minority can bring about compromise on legislation. But you can’t compromise a Presidential nomination. It’s yes or no. So filibusters on nominations are an abuse of our function under the Constitution to advise and consent.”
A number of Republicans have been quoted over the years laying out a similar philosophy, and that’s led many to suspect that even conservative betes noir like Dawn Johnsen will be able to avoid a filibuster and sail to confirmation. But, as it turns out, that principle is an artifact of an era when the filibuster was about the only lever of power the Democrats held. Today the situation is more than reversed, and Republicans like Grassley are discovering not-so-subtle ways to abandon their old beliefs. “I will not vote for Dawn Johnsen and I will support a filibuster because she is so extreme in her views on that point,” Grassley told one blogger.
[A]nd then on the first question you asked — if you go back to 2002, prior to that there was hardly any use on filibusters on judges, but since the Democrats started using that, we Republicans want a level playing field with the Democrats, so we are adopting their practice in order to make them responsible the same way they tried to make us responsible with an extraordinary majority to get judges approved.
So, I still agree that it shouldn’t have been done, but people are going to think that Republicans are not doing their job the way the Democrats do it and we want to show that we can do just as well as they do, defending our point of view just like they did on their point of view.