The Wall Street Journal editorial board ripped Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Sunday for reputedly snapping that “nothing is off the table for next year” if Republicans confirm a Supreme Court nominee in Congress before the November election.
The Journal, after explaining that Schumer’s threat referred to the possibility of breaking the filibuster and packing the Supreme Court, blasted, “Democrats have a long history of breaking procedural norms on judges.”
The Journal then cited various instances of Democrats’ penchant for ignoring such procedural norms, including the infamous attacks on Judge Robert Bork in 1987 at his confirmation hearings from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), who, as the Journal noted, “issued his demagogic assault from the Senate floor, complete with lies about women ‘forced into back-alley abortions’ and blacks who would have to “’sit at segregated lunch counters.’”
The Journal pointed out that previous nominees had been attacked for corruption or their lack of qualifications, but Bork was the first nominee whose record was lied about to defeat his nomination.
The next judge the Journal cited was Justice Clarence Thomas, whom the Journal wrote was “unfairly smeared on the eve of a Senate vote and barely confirmed,” adding, “Democrats accused Samuel Alito of racism and sexism for belonging decades earlier to an obscure Princeton alumni group.” The Journal noted the uncorroborated claims of women accusers against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Vis-à-vis the filibuster, the Journal wrote, “It’s mostly forgotten now, but in George W. Bush’s first term Senate Democrats pioneered the use of the filibuster to block nominees to the circuit courts. That was also unprecedented. Miguel Estrada was left hanging for 28 months before he withdrew, though he had support from 55 Senators … Democrats also filibustered or otherwise blocked appellate nominees Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, Charles Pickering Sr., Henry Saad, Carolyn Kuhl, William Pryor, David McKeague, Richard Griffin and William Myers, among others.”
Regarding breaking the filibuster for appellate nominees, the Journal pointed out, “That norm-breaker was executed by Democrats in 2013, led by then Majority Leader Harry Reid with the enthusiastic support of Barack Obama. Democrats rewrote Senate rules in mid-Congress, on a party-line vote, to add three seats to the D.C. Circuit.”
The Journal opined, “Republicans could surrender and not confirm a nominee, and Senate Democrats would still break the filibuster. Court packing would then become a sword hanging over the Justices if they rule contrary to the policy views of the Senate left. Leader Schumer won’t resist because he is quaking at the prospect of a primary challenge from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2022.”
The Journal concluded, “What Republicans should do is let the voters know about the Democratic filibuster and court-packing plans, and make them a campaign issue. Democratic Senators and candidates should have to declare themselves not merely on Mr. Trump’s nominee but on the filibuster and court-packing that Mr. Schumer has now told the country will be on the table.”