In it, but not of it. TPM DC

One Time Sotomayor Opponents Also Opposed Filibustering Judicial Nominees

In an April 25, 2005 appearance on Meet the Press, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ)--now the Senate Minority Whip--said, "For 214 years it has been the tradition of the Senate to approve judicial nominees by a majority vote."

Many of our judges and, for example, Clarence Thomas, people might recall, was approved by either fifty-one or fifty-two votes as I recall. It has never been the rule that a candidate for judgeship that had majority support was denied the ability to be confirmed once before the Senate. It has never happened before. So we're not changing the rules in the middle of the game. We're restoring the 214-year tradition of the Senate because in the last two years Democrats have begun to use this filibuster. [...] This is strictly about whether or not a minority of senators is going to prevent the president from being able to name and get confirmed judges that he chooses after he's been elected by the American people. And it's never been the case until the last two years that a minority could dictate to the majority what they could do.

And, in a May 19, 2005 floor speech, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)--now Senate Minority Leader--said "[the] President's judicial nominees, after full debate, deserve a simple up-or-down vote."

I know that some of our colleagues wish that restoration of this principle were not required. But it is a measured step that my friends on the other side of the aisle have unfortunately made necessary. For the first time in 214 years, they have changed the Senate's 'advise and consent' responsibilities to 'advise and obstruct.' [...]Given those results, many of us had hoped that the politics of obstruction would have been dumped in the dustbin of history. Regretfully, that did not happen.

Hat tip to Media Matters for those quotes, and much more. Of course, these sorts of past statements don't always imply anything about a politician's position when the balance of power in Washington has shifted. In May 2005, after the Gang of 14 came to their famous compromise, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who also voted against Sotomayor, called filibustering judicial nominees unconstitutional. Late last month, though, he promised to filibuster a different Obama judicial nominee--David Hamilton--once his nomination clears the judiciary committee.

About The Author


Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at