James Inhofe

Inhofe: Democrats Want To Eliminate The Military

Speaking with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on Washington Watch yesterday, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) explained that the recently unveiled Pentagon budget “has the effect of killing our young Americans in combat.”

He said President Obama is to blame for spending cuts because he probably doesn’t want to have a military anyway: “A real liberal in his heart doesn’t think you need a military anyway, I know people that would never admit that, but people I have served with here in the United States Senate, that’s the crisis we’re up against.”

A leading climate change denialist, Inhofe also took issue with spending on environmental projects.

“We really need global warming right now; we’re setting all kinds of records out in Oklahoma,” Inhofe joked, before arguing that federal funds “wasted on the global warming stuff” should have gone towards the military instead.

Perkins responded by arguing that President Obama and other Democrats “despise the military” because they support policies that have allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly.

“If you think back, the president set his sights on the military from the very beginning, pushing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which was the beginning of the end of the military,” Perkins said.

He then repeated the false claim that end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is responsible for an increase in sexual assaults.

Right Wing Round-Up - 1/9/14

Priebus: Democrats Secretly Oppose Unemployment Insurance As Part Of Obamacare Plot

Yesterday, all but six Republicans voted to block the Senate from taking up a bill extending unemployment insurance for three months. But according to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, it is actually the Democrats who don’t want jobless aid to pass the Senate.

That’s right, even though his own party has tried to throw a wrench into efforts to extend aid to 1.3 million jobseekers — the GOP’s position would even threaten job growth and cut GDP — Priebus yesterday told radio host Lars Larson that Democrats “don’t want this to pass.” He claimed that the Democrats’ attempt to pass emergency jobless aid was in fact a ploy to “avoid Obamacare.”

Priebus claimed that President Obama is promoting income inequality, even though the federal programs such as food stamps that Republicans want to drastically cut keep millions of people out of poverty.

Priebus: I think the President is the king of income inequality. He has doubled food stamps, the poor are poorer under this president, Wall Street is doing better under this president and he’s jamming Obamacare under everybody’s throat. That’s his record.

Larson: The first three months of this extension — if the Houses is crazy enough to pass it — costs about $6-7 billion.



Priebus: All of this kind of stuff is ridiculous because we’re spending all of our time actually talking and perpetrating what the Democrats actually want. They don’t want this to pass, what they want to do is they want to talk about these things, they want to talk about minimum wage and what they want to do ultimately is create a campaign issue, this sort of rich vs. poor, the same old thing they can do and avoid Obamacare. That’s what they want.

Perhaps Priebus should have listened to the interview with Larson’s other guest today, Sen. Jim Inhofe.

The Oklahoma Republican in no uncertain terms said he has consistently opposes extensions of unemployment insurance. He also contradicted Priebus by saying that Democrats do in fact want to extend such aid…but only because it will encourage joblessness and government dependency.

“I think that we’ve developed a society that, you know, as long as they don’t have to work they don’t work. I’ve always opposed extending that and I’ve opposed that in my own state,” Inhofe said. “This president has intentionally put us in the position where people are relying upon government for their existence, this is just one element in that overall program.”

Sen. Inhofe Agrees That Obama 'Is On The Other Side' In The War On Terror, Iran Policy

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) agreed with a conservative talk show host’s claim during an interview yesterday that President Obama is “on the other side” when it comes to US foreign policy interests in the Mideast.

Speaking to the Republican lawmaker, host Lars Larson said that “when you look at what this President has done in Egypt, in Syria, in Libya, in Iraq, in other places, it’s almost like he’s on the other side.”

“Well don’t forget Iran,” the senator added.

“I have to agree with you,” Inhofe continued. “I’m not a conspirator either but I wonder, there’s such a repetition, we are over and over again, it’s always — the other guys are always the good guys and we’re the bad guys. Then you look at it through the eyes of the Israelis — Netanyahu shakes his head and wonders why in the world we didn’t learn on 9/11 that the threat is out there and it’s very real — so I’m with you.”

Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld has also wondered if Obama “switched sides” in the war on terror.

Twelve Republicans Who Broke Their Pledge To Oppose Judicial Filibusters

After waging an unprecedented campaign of obstructionism against President Obama’s nominees, Republicans are now crying crocodile tears over a rules change that would end the filibuster on certain judicial nominees.

NBC News points out that Republicans are not blocking judicial nominees over “concerns about ideology or qualifications, but over the president’s ability to appoint ANYONE to these vacancies.” This unprecedented blockade leaves Democrats with few options, as dozens of nominees are left unable to receive a simple confirmation vote.

It’s even harder to be sympathetic to Senate Republicans when you remember that just a few years ago, many of the very same Republicans who are today filibustering President Obama’s nominees willy-nilly were vowing that they would never, ever filibuster judicial nominees. Some even declared that judicial filibusters were unconstitutional and un-American.

But that was before there was a Democrat in the White House.

We take a look back at some of the Senate’s most strident opponents of filibustering judicial nominees, turned master obstructers.

1. Mitch McConnell (KY)

“Any President’s judicial nominees should receive careful consideration. But after that debate, they deserve a simple up-or-down vote” (5/19/05).

“Let's get back to the way the Senate operated for over 200 years, up or down votes on the president's nominee, no matter who the president is, no matter who's in control of the Senate” (5/22/05).

2. John Cornyn (TX)

“[F]ilibusters of judicial nominations are uniquely offensive to our nation’s constitutional design” (6/4/03).

“[M]embers of this distinguished body have long and consistently obeyed an unwritten rule not to block the confirmation of judicial nominees by filibuster. But, this Senate tradition, this unwritten rule has now been broken and it is crucial that we find a way to ensure the rule won’t be broken in the future” (6/5/03).

3. Lamar Alexander (TN)

“If there is a Democratic President and I am in this body, and if he nominates a judge, I will never vote to deny a vote on that judge” (3/11/03).

“I would never filibuster any President's judicial nominee. Period” (6/9/05).

4. John McCain (AZ)

“I’ve always believed that [judicial nominees deserve yes-or-no votes]. There has to be extraordinary circumstances to vote against them. Elections have consequences” (6/18/13).

5. Chuck Grassley (IA)

It would be a real constitutional crisis if we up the confirmation of judges from 51 to 60” (2/11/03).

“[W]e can’t find anywhere in the Constitution that says a supermajority is needed for confirmation” (5/8/05).

6. Saxby Chambliss (GA)

“I believe [filibustering judicial nominees] is in violation of the Constitution” (4/13/05).

7. Lindsey Graham (SC)

“I think filibustering judges will destroy the judiciary over time. I think it’s unconstitutional” (5/23/05).

8. Johnny Isakson (GA)

I will vote to support a vote, up or down, on every nominee. Understanding that, were I in the minority party and the issues reversed, I would take exactly the same position because this document, our Constitution, does not equivocate” (5/19/05).

9. James Inhofe (OK)

“This outrageous grab for power by the Senate minority is wrong and contrary to our oath to support and defend the Constitution” (3/11/03).

10. Mike Crapo (ID)

“[T]he Constitution requires the Senate to hold up-or-down votes on all nominees” (5/25/05).

11 . Richard Shelby (AL)

“Why not allow the President to do his job of selecting judicial nominees and let us do our job in confirming or denying them? Principles of fairness call for it and the Constitution requires it” (11/12/03).

12. Orrin Hatch (UT)*

Filibustering judicial nominees is “unfair, dangerous, partisan, and unconstitutional” (1/12/05).

*Hatch claims he still opposes filibusters of judicial nominees and often votes “present” instead of “no” on cloture votes. But as Drew noted: “Because ending a filibuster requires 60 ‘yes’ votes, voting ‘present’ is identical to voting ‘no.’ Hatch’s decision to vote ‘present’ is an affirmative decision to continue the filibuster.”

Right Wing Round-Up - 5/21/13

Rep. Frank Lucas Wonders if There's an Obama 'Conspiracy to Buy Up All the Bullets So They're Not Available to Us'

Rep. Frank Lucas, Republican of Oklahoma and House sponsor of a bill that is feeding a right-wing conspiracy theory about ammunition purchases by the federal government, wondered Monday if the Obama administration is leading “a conspiracy to buy up all the bullets so they’re not available to us.”

In an interview with Steve Malzberg, Rep. Lucas claimed that bullets are being “rationed” and that his constituents “have been telling me for a year they cannot buy ammunition in the retail stores.” When Malzberg played a clip of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano refuting the conspiracy theory that the administration is buying up bullets to keep them from consumers, Rep. Lucas replied, “It’s hard to see in the mind of an Obama-appointed official. They tend to be a little different than the general public, they have a different perspective.”

“But this is the administration, remember, that’s super gun control, that really, really, really doesn’t trust people with firearms and obviously they don’t trust people with ammunition,” he continued. “Is this a conspiracy to buy up all the bullets so they’re not available to us? I don’t know.”

Rep. Lucas, along with Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, is sponsoring a bill that would cap the amount of ammunition non-Defense federal agencies are allowed to buy. The bill is a response to an Alex Jones-fueled right-wing conspiracy theory that even the NRA has debunked.
 

Right Wing Round-Up - 4/11/13

Senate at Last Confirms Bacharach, Example of GOP’s Extreme Obstruction

WASHINGTON – In a 93-0 vote today, the Senate confirmed Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, almost nine months after the Judiciary Committee first sent his nomination to the full Senate. His nomination faced extraordinary delays despite public support from his homestate Republican senators James Inhofe and Tom Coburn.

People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker released the following statement:

“Robert Bacharach’s confirmation to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is good news for residents of Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, who will now see their justice system move a little more smoothly. Circuit courts have a tremendous influence on Americans’ pursuit of justice and the shape of American law, since the only higher court – the Supreme Court – hears so few cases. But the extraordinary delay in confirming Bacharach is a stark symbol of the dysfunction that Senate Republicans have brought to the judicial confirmations process.

“When President Obama nominated Bacharach in January 2012, his nomination was greeted enthusiastically by Sens. Inhofe and Coburn. In June, his nomination passed smoothly through the Judiciary Committee, where it was approved with broad bipartisan support. Then, Senate Republicans proceeded to stall his nomination on the Senate floor for no apparent reason. At the end of July, Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to hold a vote on Bacharach’s nomination, but was met with a purposeless GOP filibuster. Sen. Coburn had said such sabotage of his state’s nominee would be ‘stupid,’ but he and Sen. Inhofe ended up cooperating with their party’s leadership and refusing to help break the filibuster.

“I hope that today’s long-overdue confirmation of Bacharach signals a new willingness from the Senate GOP to work to quickly consider and vote on the president’s nominees. They have a lot of work to do. Three additional federal circuit court judges are awaiting votes from the full Senate: Caitlin Halligan, President Obama’s nominee to fill one of four vacancies on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, who was first approved by the Judiciary Committee in 2011; Third Circuit nominee Patty Shwartz, who has been on the Senate calendar for a year; and Federal Circuit nominee Richard Taranto, who has waited 11 months for a Senate vote.

“Last term, President Obama’s confirmed federal judicial nominees waited an average of three times as long between committee approval and confirmation as did President Bush’s first-term nominees. As the nation suffers the consequences of a federal courts vacancy crisis that it the Senate GOP has helped to perpetuate, Republicans can and must do better.”

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Religious Right's Last Stand to Block Chuck Hagel

While it is becoming extremely unlikely that the GOP will be able to muster enough votes to filibuster Chuck Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary, Religious Right groups and their Republican allies continue to make new and more over-the-top overtures to activists hoping to block his confirmation.

For example, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) told Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council that “we can’t afford to allow someone who has been that cozy with the terrorist groups that are out there to become Secretary of Defense.”

Inhofe went on to say that Hagel wants to “disarm us” and shows “hostility” toward the U.S. and Israel. Inhofe also cited Sen. Ted Cruz’s questioning of Hagel where he egregiously misrepresented the nominee’s speeches and interview with Al-Jazeera.

Inhofe: That is what is so scary about this; we’d be confirming a secretary of defense—

Perkins: That wants to basically disarm.

Inhofe: Who wants to disarm us. Before I run out of time, Cruz came up with something just great, he’s a new senator from Texas and he’s on my committee, the Armed Services committee, and he came out and he actually used…a spot that came from Al-Jazeera, this was Chuck Hagel being interviewed on Al-Jazeera a short time ago when he agreed with the call-ins at that time that Israel committed war crimes; Hagel admitted that Israel committed ‘sickening slaughters’; admitted that America is the world’s bully. And this is the guy that is trying to become the secretary of defense; it’s a scary, scary thing.

Perkins: Senator before I let you go, just one question: do you know why he seems to be so indifferent if not hostile toward Israel?

Inhofe: And the United States, Tony. I just don’t understand it. Of course, he denies that he is and you know the record confirms that he has this hostility to it. By the way, almost every group in Israel is lobbying us and calling us and saying, ‘please don’t let this happen.’ They’ve been just as concerned about Obama, this is the first time that any President of the United States has trashed Israel in my memory. So I can’t answer that question.

Matthew Hagee, the son of televangelist John Hagee who has been lobbying with Christians United for Israel against Hagel and called him “dangerous to America’s security,” said on the Hagee Hotline that Hagel’s contentious confirmation hearing was an answer to their prayers.

At the end of the day, Pastor Hagee and those 400 [pastors] who joined him were very confident that what they had done was all that was in their physical power to do to not only represent their views as Americans but the views of the body of Christ and the kingdom of God and to stand up on behalf of God’s chosen people, Israel. All that was left to do was to remain in prayer and to be hopeful that the actions that they had taken would make a difference. If you saw any of the headlines following the Senate committee’s interview of Chuck Hagel, you know that a difference was made. You saw that the Senate firsthand was able to expose Hagel’s weaknesses and you saw the difference that the prayer of the righteous and faith in action can make.

Just today the Family Research Council asked activists to pray for Hagel’s defeat and FRC senior fellow Ken Blackwell said Hagel’s nomination invites “chaos and confusion at a time of international peril.” Eagle Forum told members in an action alert that “Chuck Hagel is a threat to America’s strength and safety” and Rick Santorum claimed “his confirmation would be a direct threat to our national security.”

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer also weighed in, saying that Iran “loves” Hagel because he wants to “disarm” the U.S.

Perkins Warns Allowing Women In Combat Will Lead to Reinstatement of the Draft

On his radio program on Friday, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins added his voice to the Religious Right’s collective outrage over the Pentagon’s decision to allow women to serve in combat positions. The move, Perkins warned, will decrease morale and deter volunteers to the point that “we will have to reinstate the draft.”

I spoke with Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma earlier today about this. He is the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee and he is probably going to be joining me next week on the program. We talked about it and he says the Pentagon will – they don’t have to by law, they don’t have to get a congressional action – but they will be presenting their proposal to Congress. Congress could stop it. Now, I’m not very optimistic that Congress has the backbone to do anything about that. We’ve seen that before on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’

We’re going to be tracking this very close because, again, this is a national security issue. I didn’t even get into the issue, don’t have time today, but with all of the social engineering that’s going on in our military, I do not think we’re far off from the very real possibility of having to reinstate the draft. Now think about that for a moment. Walk that out. We have to revert to the draft because all of the morale issues and what’s happening in the military, people are not volunteering to join, so we get into another major conflict, we have to reinstate the draft, and all of a sudden they’re drafting our daughters to serve in combat.

Perkins is not alone in his fears. The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer also warned last week that the new policy would cause a “complete sexual meltdown” in the military and a subsequent reinstatement of the draft.

It may be of some comfort to Perkins and Fischer to note that their similarly dire predictions about the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” – including Fischer’s prediction that “the draft will return with a vengeance and out of necessity” – have not come to pass. Not only has the draft not been reinstated, a study by a group of military school professors one year after the repeal of DADT found that the repeal “had no overall negative impact on military readiness or its component dimensions, including cohesion, recruitment, retention, assaults, harassment or morale.”
 

Inhofe Claims Obama and Liberals Hope to Disband the Military

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) appeared on conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney’s show yesterday where they railed against President Obama over his speech at the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Symposium. Gaffney claimed that Obama was practicing “national security fraud” and is “misleading the American people” by heralding new efforts to curtail the proliferation of nuclear weapons, while Inhofe said that the dream of Obama and the far-left is to disband the military altogether. “The far-left doesn’t think we need a military to start with, they really don’t,” Inhofe told Gaffney, “They would never say that but they do believe that.”

Listen:

Gaffney: I just have to ask you about this. President Obama made a statement yesterday that just is stunning. He said to a group of nuclear disarmament enthusiasts: ‘We’re moving closer to the future we seek. A future where these weapons never threaten our children again. A future where we know the security and peace of a world without nuclear weapons.’ Senator, I suggest to you that represents national security fraud. I just wonder, knowing what you do about the proliferation of nuclear weapons not just in Iran but the buildup by the Chinese that have just tested a new long-range missile from mobile launchers capable of reaching this country, what on earth is the president doing misleading the American people?

Inhofe: I think that you and I have a problem. We don’t stop and realize that we are dealing with people—the far-left doesn’t think we need a military to start with, they really don’t. You’ve heard me say this before, they really believe if all countries would just stand in a circle and unilaterally disarm and hold hands then all threats would go away, they believe that. They would never say that but they do believe that.

How Unhinged Rhetoric Sank a Disabilities Rights Treaty in the Senate

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities failed to capture the 2/3 vote needed for ratification in the U.S. Senate today due to fierce Republican opposition. Many Republicans and their allies in the conservative movement claimed that the treaty codifies abortion into law, even though that preposterous claim was rejected by the National Right to Life Committee and Sen. John McCain. Along with the false charges about abortion, opponents of the treaty claimed it will undermine U.S. sovereignty and harm children. Critics like Rick Santorum warned that the treaty may kill his disabled daughter; Glenn Beck said it could create a “fascistic” government and Sen. Jim Inhofe alleged the treaty would help groups with “anti-American biases.”

One of the lesser-known but extremely active opponents of the bill was homeschooling activist Michael Farris.

During an interview with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, he claimed that the treaty will prompt the United Nations to ‘get control’ of children with glasses or ADHD and remove them from their families.

Farris: They’re called living documents, just like the disgraced living Constitution theory, which means the treaty doesn’t mean today what it’s going to mean tomorrow what it’s going to mean ten years from now. So you never know what you’re signing up for, that by itself is a good enough reason to leave it alone and to never enter into one of these things. But in particular, you hit the nail on the head Tony, the definition of disability is not defined in the treaty. My kid wears glasses, now they’re disabled, now the UN gets control over them; my child’s got a mild case of ADHD, now you’re under control of the UN treaty. There’s no definitional standard, it can change over time, and the UN, not American policymakers, are the ones who get it decided.

While speaking with the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, the two warned that the treaty could lead to the deaths of disabled children, all the while admitting they have no evidence it would do such beyond their pure speculation.

Fischer: Disabled newborn babies in the UK are being put, oftentimes overriding the wishes of parents, on this death pathway where no matter what the parents want the doctors say this kid cannot live, severely disabled, too many congenital deformities, we think the best thing for this kid is just to be starved and dehydrated to death. It seems to me that although that’s not specifically contemplated in this treaty that could be an outcome.

Farris: Whether they thought about it or not, that’s exactly what Rick Santorum said in our press conference. He was holding his daughter Bella and she’s of the category of child that in Britain they would take that position because her official diagnosis is ‘incompatible with life.’ So when the doctor gets to decide, the doctor empowered by the government—these doctors aren’t doing it on their own, they are doing it because the government says they have the power to do it—the doctor/government deciding what they think is best for the child. It goes to the point of deciding whether the child lives or dies, it is that crazy. If we want to live in a Brave New World like that where the bureaucrats and the government and the UN all tell us what to do, fine, but this is the beginning of the end of American self-government if we go here, it’s just crazy, we cannot let this happen.

After warning that the treaty will kill children, Farris told conservative talk show host Steve Deace that the treaty will create a “cradle-to-grave care for the disabled” and said if the U.S. ratifies it “signing up to be an official socialist nation.” Farris claimed that the treaty will treat the parents of disabled children like child abusers in order to grow government power and implement “coercive socialism.”

“Everybody in America will be living under is socialism as an international entitlement” if the treaty passes, Farris maintained, “it’s a way to make the socialist, liberal, amoral element a permanent feature of our law.” Deace agreed and said the treaty will “due in freedom and liberty.”

Farris: Every parent with a disabled child is going to be in the same legal position as if they’d been convicted of child abuse. We are taking away parental decision-making power in that area. The other thing that everybody in America will be living under is socialism as an international entitlement. The United States resisted all the UN treaties of a certain category that began being proliferated in the 1960s; the first was the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights. Our country said no that is coercive socialism, we’re not going to do that. So we rejected all those treaties ever since 1966. Yet we’re signing up now for our first economic, social and cultural treaty which means as a matter of international binding law that goes to the supremacy clause level in our Constitution, we’re signing up to be an official socialist nation, cradle-to-grave care for the disabled. Maybe Americans want to do that, but I think we’d want to do it as a matter of domestic law, not as a matter of international law. I personally don’t think that’s any business of Congress to do that sort of thing but I certainly don’t want to be doing it when the United Nations tells us to do it. So those are two big ways it will affect every American and there are more.

Deace: Michael Farris is here with us from Patrick Henry College, also from the Home School Legal Defense Association, talking about another attempt to usurp American sovereignty, to essentially do an end-run around the Constitution and then of course due in freedom and liberty through an effort through the United Nations.



Farris: If they can get this one through, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, CEDAW, which is the women’s treaty with all kinds of junk in that one, and then a whole host of other UN treaties that the Obama administration wants to send our way, it’s a way to make the socialist, liberal, amoral element a permanent feature of our law through the use of treaties and they are going to do a full-force attack. We’ve got to stop them now. It’s not like just the camel nose in the tent, it is that too, but we don’t want a camel’s nose in our constitutional system, that’s what we don’t want.

Inhofe: Obama 'Has Tried to Destroy Every Institution that Makes America Great'

Today, Sen. James Inhofe stopped by "Focal Point" to give Bryan Fischer his predication about next week's election, saying he wanted it on the record that not only is Mitt Romney was going to win "by a substantial margin," but that Republicans will also win control of the Senate because, even though people don't want to say it, "they realize this president has tried to destroy every institution that makes America great." 

"This is still America and they can't get by with that," Inhofe declared, before predicting that Todd Akin would win the Missouri Senate race because his "legitimate rape" gaffe "was a long time ago":

Senate Republicans Block Appeals Court Nominee They Support, Setting Obstruction Record

Washington, DC – The Senate GOP set an obstruction record today, for the first time in history successfully filibustering a federal appeals court nominee who had come out of the Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. In a 56 to 34 vote, a partisan minority prevented the Senate majority from ending the filibuster of the nomination of Oklahoma’s Robert Bacharach to become a judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. No senator has actually spoken against Bacharach’s nomination, and he has received the strong support of both his home-state senators, Republicans Tom Coburn and James Inhofe. In an interview in June, Coburn called plans to block Bacharach’s nomination “stupid.” But even Coburn and Inhofe’s support evaporated when McConnell gave the command to filibuster: both Oklahoma senators voted "present," which in the case of a filibuster is the same as a "no" vote.

“If you need any further proof of the Senate GOP’s blind dedication to obstruction, this is it,” said Paul Gordon of People For the American Way. “Robert Bacharach should have been a shoe-in for a federal judgeship. His superior qualifications aren’t in dispute. His home-state senators, both conservative Republicans, fully support his nomination. Republicans aren’t even bothering to pretend he is controversial. For the first time in American history, we see a successful filibuster of a circuit court nominee who was approved by committee with bipartisan support – all because Sen. McConnell and his party are more interested in playing politics than in doing their jobs. So Americans in six states remain stuck with a circuit court without enough judges to deliver justice efficiently.

“With nearly 80 current vacancies in the federal courts, the Senate GOP should be doing everything in its power to help clear the nominations backlog, rather than making flimsy excuses for further obstruction. This absurd gamesmanship is not what Americans are paying our Senate to do.”

###

Last week, People For the American Way circulated this fact sheet on Bacharach’s nomination:

There has never been a successful filibuster of a circuit court nominee who was approved in committee with bipartisan support. A failed cloture vote on Tenth Circuit nominee Robert Bacharach would represent a massive escalation in obstruction.

Robert Bacharach should be a shoe-in

  • The ABA panel that evaluates judicial nominees unanimously found Bacharach well qualified, its highest possible evaluation. He has been a magistrate judge in the Western District of Oklahoma for over a decade.
  • He was approved by the Judiciary Committee with near-unanimous bipartisan support (the one “no” vote was from Sen. Mike Lee, who is voting against all President Obama’s judicial nominees to protest an unrelated issue).
  • He has the support of President Obama and both of Oklahoma’s Republican senators.
  • As Sen. Inhofe said, “it is kind of rare that the Obama White House and I agree on anything.”
  • Sen. Coburn said in June that it would be “stupid” for his party to block a vote on Bacharach.

The “Thurmond Rule” is no excuse for blocking Bacharach

  •  In the past 5 presidential election years, Senate Democrats have never denied an up-or-down vote to any circuit court nominee of a Republican president who received bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee.
  • In the past 5 presidential election years, only 4 circuit nominees reported with bipartisan support have been denied an up-or-down vote on the Senate Floor, and all 4 were nominated by President Clinton.

This is part of the GOP’s ongoing campaign of obstruction against consensus nominees

  •  Of the 5 circuit court nominees that have been confirmed this year, the Majority Leader had to file cloture on 3 of those nominees in order to secure an up-or-down vote.
  • All 3 circuit court nominees for whom the Majority Leader had to file cloture were nominated to fill judicial emergency vacancies and were rated unanimously “well qualified” by the nonpartisan ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, the highest possible rating. Two of the circuit court nominees who required cloture – Adalberto Jordan of Florida and Andrew Hurwitz of Arizona both had the support of their Republican home state senators (and the third was from California, which has two Democratic senators).

Vacancies are taking a toll on the Tenth Circuit (Oklahoma, Kansas, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado)

  • Of the 12 active judgeships on this circuit, 2 are vacant.
  • This seat has been vacant for more than two years, when the previous judge retired (as opposed to taking senior status).
  • The slack is being picked up by several senior judges, including an 89 year-old LBJ nominee and a 96 year-old Nixon nominee.

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On Obstructing Judges, Senate Republicans Get Even Worse

Republicans are seeking the first ever successful filibuster of a circuit court nominee who was approved in committee with bipartisan support.
PFAW

Filibuster of 10th Circuit Nominee Would Be Unprecedented

On Monday, the Senate will hold a cloture vote to end the filibuster of Robert Bacharach to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. This filibuster is just the latest example of the destructive obstruction of judicial nominees that Republicans have engaged in from the very start of the Obama presidency.

In fact, if this filibuster succeeds, it will be the first time there has ever been a successful filibuster of a circuit court nominee who was approved in committee with bipartisan support.

Bacharach, who hails from Oklahoma, is extraordinarily well qualified to be a circuit court judge. The ABA panel that evaluates judicial nominees unanimously gave him their highest possible rating, "well qualified." He has been a magistrate judge in the Western District of Oklahoma for over a decade, giving him substantial experience with the criminal and civil legal issues he would face as a circuit court judge.

Much of Oklahoma's legal establishment has publicly supported his nomination: the Chief Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma; the Oklahoma Bar Association; the Dean of the University of Oklahoma College of Law; the General Counsel at Oklahoma City University; the Dean Emeritus at Oklahoma City University School of Law; the President of the Oklahoma County Bar Association; fellow members of the Federal Bar Association; and attorneys who worked closely with him while he was in private practice.

Bacharach also has strong bipartisan support. He has the support of President Obama and both of Oklahoma's Republican senators. In addition, he was approved by the Judiciary Committee nearly unanimously, with only Sen. Lee voting no (for reasons unrelated to the nominee). Sen. Coburn has said it would be "stupid" for his party to block a floor vote on Bacharach.

Last month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that his party would refuse to consent to any further confirmation votes for circuit court nominees, purportedly because it is an election year. He cited the so-called "Thurmond Rule," which he mischaracterized as a practice of not allowing any judicial confirmation votes as we approach a presidential election. In reality, it is not a "rule" at all. Instead, it is the name for the general principle that the party not in the White House will sometimes slow confirmation of controversial judicial nominees at some point in the months leading up to a presidential election. It has nothing to do with consensus nominees like Bacharach.

In fact, as noted above, a successful filibuster of Bacharach would be the first time there has ever been a successful filibuster of a circuit court nominee who was approved in committee with bipartisan support. That is hardly consistent with Senate history or practice.

But it would be consistent with Republican efforts to obstruct President Obama's judicial nominees regardless of their qualifications, regardless of their strong bipartisan support, and regardless of the damage the obstruction inflicts on the American people. After years of calling filibusters of President Bush's judicial nominees unconstitutional, Senate Republicans turned around and filibustered President Obama's very first judicial nominee (David Hamilton, to the Seventh Circuit). This year, most of the circuit court nominees who have been confirmed have required a cloture vote to break Republican filibusters.

Republican efforts to filibuster Robert Bacharach are completely unjustified, but are also no surprise.

 

PFAW

Gridlock or Bust: How the Senate GOP Has Abandoned Its Own Nominees for the Sake of Obstruction

To: Editorial boards and journalists

From: Marge Baker, Executive Vice President, People For the American Way

Subject: Gridlock or Bust: How the Senate GOP Has Abandoned Its Own Nominees for the Sake of Obstruction

Date: July 19, 2012

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell got into a shouting match on the Senate floor, each of them accusing the other of purposefully stalling Senate business.

One of them was right. The other was making flimsy excuses.

Senate Republicans under McConnell’s leadership have routinely stalled the government’s business even on matters on which they agree with Democrats. Nowhere is this clearer than in the obstruction of  nominees to the federal courts, particularly those with strong bipartisan support. And nowhere is that clearer than the senseless filibuster of the nomination of Oklahoma’s Robert Bacharach to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Bacharach has the strong support of both of Oklahoma’s Republican senators. He was approved by a strong bipartisan majority in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Yet McConnell, citing a nebulous so-called rule named after South Carolina segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond, refuses to hold a vote on Bacharach’s confirmation. (Under Senate rules, the majority cannot schedule a vote without the consent of the minority party. Denying that consent for President Obama’s judicial nominees has been standard operating procedure for McConnell. This quiet filibuster is usually hidden from the public unless the majority calls for a cloture vote to end it.)

Oklahoma’s Robert Bacharach and the 20 other highly qualified judicial nominees awaiting confirmation deserve swift up-or-down votes from the full Senate.

McConnell is misleading Americans on the extent of his own obstruction.

In their exchange yesterday, Sen. McConnell accused Sen. Reid of “basically trying to convince the American people that it’s somebody else's fault, that the Senate is not doing the basic work of government.”

The Senate is not doing the basic work of government. But the blame for that lies squarely on the shoulders of McConnell and his party.

Look at the progress on the confirmation of President Obama’s judicial nominees: the average federal court nominee under President Obama has waited 103 days after committee approval just for an up-or-down vote from the Senate. The average wait for George W. Bush's nominees at this point in his first term was just 34 days. The result is that only 153 Obama nominees have been confirmed so far, compared with 197 Bush nominees at the same point in his term. While Bush cut the judicial vacancy rate by over one third during his first term in office, Obama is set to end his first term with more vacancies than he started with, capping off a historically long period of high vacancy rates.

McConnell, unsurprisingly, has been trying desperately to hide these numbers. In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times yesterday, he and Sen. Charles Grassley claimed that the Senate today “already has confirmed 152 of his lower-court nominees, compared to only 119 of Bush's under similar circumstances.”

What they call “similar circumstances” is what the rest of us would call “apples and oranges.” The senators are comparing the confirmation rate in Obama’s first term to that in Bush’s second term – when, because of a cooperative Senate he had many fewer judicial vacancies to fill.

McConnell is prioritizing obstruction over the wishes of his fellow GOP senators.

Tenth Circuit nominee Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma has the strong support of both of his home-state GOP senators. In fact, Sen. Coburn has publicly spoken out against the needless obstruction of Bacharach’s nomination, calling McConnell’s delays “stupid.” Bacharach’s position is similar to that of First Circuit nominee William Kayatta of Maine, who is being filibustered by the Senate GOP despite support from home-state Republican senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

Both nominees received bipartisan support in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Both have earned the American Bar Association’s highest rating.

Yet Kayatta has been waiting for a Senate vote since April and Bacharach since June. And if McConnell continues to have his way, neither nominee will even reach a Senate vote this year. Why? The Minority Leader arbitrarily announced last month that he would block all Circuit Court nominees until after the presidential election.

Sen. McConnell is trying to fool the American people with his creative statistics and denials. Under his leadership, the Senate GOP has become a force of gridlock, stopping even routine government business at every opportunity. If Sen. McConnell wants to prove that current Senate dysfunction is not the fault of his party, he can start by allowing a vote on Robert Bacharach.

Press contact: Miranda Blue, media@pfaw.org, (202) 467-4999

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