Senate Opposition May Block Judicial Nominees Close to Presidential Election
On July 30, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Robert E. Bacharach to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. But under a more than 30-year-old Senate procedure known as the Thurmond/Leahy Rule, during a presidential election year, the opposition party may block the confirmation of judicial nominees in the months leading up to the election.
This procedure preserves existing vacancies for the incoming President to fill and prevents an outgoing President from loading up the courts with cronies and ideologues. Thus, Senate Republicans can and should be prepared to filibuster at least the circuit court nominees to stop their confirmation before the election this November.
Liberals been howling that the Senate Republicans’ invocation of the Thurmond/Leahy Rule violates the spirit of the Constitution, is the antithesis of good governance, and is a disservice to the nominees and to an overburdened federal judiciary. Putting aside the fact that the Senate has confirmed more nominees for the current Administration than it did in a re-election year for the last Administration, Senator Patrick Leahy (D–VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, claims that it is too early to apply the Thurmond/Leady Rule and that this is another stalling tactic by Senate Republicans to block President Obama’s nominees.