Unconstitutional acts

Senate Republicans use filibuster to avoid voting on judicial nominees

The U.S. Constitution requires that federal judicial nominees be confirmed by the Senate. But lately Senate Republicans have been using the filibuster to prevent them from even coming to a vote.

The most recent case is that of Caitlin Halligan, appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She’s a clearly qualified former New York solicitor general who has wide bipartisan support. And yet 46 of 47 Senate Republicans wouldn’t give her a vote. Why? Because, they said, she is sympathetic to marriage equality and once signed a brief in a liability suit against gun manufacturers.

Many of these same Republican senators have professed antipathy to filibusters in the past, before Barack Obama occupied the White House. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, for example, said, “I think filibustering judges will destroy the judiciary over time. I think it’s unconstitutional.” And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, averred, “The Constitution of the United States is at stake.”

That was then, this is now. To Senate Republicans, judicial filibusters are just another way to stymie the president.

This is outrageous. The president’s nominees deserve an up-or-down vote, as the Constitution mandates.