Gigot minimized Republican obstructionism of Clinton judicial nominees
Research ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER
Discussing judicial nominees on the May 15 broadcast of NBC's Meet the Press, Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul A. Gigot misleadingly claimed that "[t]he two times that some Republicans tried to use the filibuster [against judicial nominees] in 2000, a majority of Republicans and Democrats overruled it." In fact, in both cases approximately a quarter of Republican senators filibustered the nominees in question, and a substantial majority of Republicans voted to block them using procedural obstacles other than the filibuster. Referring to Clinton nominees that Republicans blocked using still other means, Gigot misleadingly claimed that "some individual Republicans -- [former Sen.] Jesse Helms [R-NC], some others -- behaved badly in some cases." In fact, "individual Republicans" in the Senate Judiciary Committee blocked at least 60 of Clinton's judicial nominees from ever receiving up-or-down votes on the Senate floor.
All but one of 55 Senate Republicans voted against a Democratic effort to proceed with a floor vote on the nomination of Clinton 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Marsha L. Berzon, with only Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) abstaining. Similarly, 31 Republicans -- including current Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) -- voted to "indefinitely postpone" the nomination of 9th Circuit nominee Richard A. Paez. This vote was essentially an attempt to revive a filibuster one day after the Senate had voted for cloture.
On filibuster votes specifically, 13 and 14 Republican senators, respectively, voted against cloture in the nominations of Berzon and Paez in 2000. And Gigot neglected to mention that Frist, who is now leading the effort to enact the "nuclear option" to ban judicial filibusters, was among the 14 who unsuccessfully voted to sustain the Paez filibuster.
Further, Republicans blocked Clinton nominees in more than "some cases." Beyond the votes to block the nominations of Paez and Berzon, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), prevented approximately 60 Clinton nominees from getting votes -- and in most cases, even hearings -- in committee.