Mitch McConnell

'You're Talking Crazy Sir, With All Due Respect': A Look Inside The GOP Civil War

Late last month, Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt and Andrew Mangione of the Association of Mature American Citizens gave us an interesting peak into the internal fighting within the GOP.

In a May 31 conversation on Pratt’s Gun Owners Radio Hour, the two conservative activists agreed on many things — including a visceral hatred of the Affordable Care Act and a fear that President Obama will send “goon squads” after people who fail to report gun ownership to their insurance companies. (Mangione’s group was founded as a conservative alternative to the AARP after the AARP got behind the health care reform).

But things got contentious when Pratt brought up his frequently-expressed anger at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who he thinks hasn’t done enough to obstruct President Obama , and declared, “If I lived in Kentucky, I’ll tell you right now, I’d vote for the liberal Democrat just to get rid of Mitch McConnell out of leadership in the Republican Party, where he does so much damage,” adding, “he is poison, pure and simple.”

Mangione, aghast, responded, “So you’d rather lose the seat than have a Republican, regardless of how pure he is on the conservative scale.”

“You’d rather have the seat go to a Democrat, you’d rather give the seat to the people who brought you Obamacare because of your personal dislike of this Republican?” he continued. “That’s why we got Obamacare, that’s why we got another four years of Obama. You’re talking crazy, sir, with all due respect.”

Pratt responded that “Mitch McConnell is the reason we got Obamacare,” to which Mangione replied that McConnell successfully denied health care reform a single Republican vote in the Senate and gave the GOP an election issue that has lasted for years.

Anti-Choice Infighting Escalates In Kentucky Senate Race

Last month, we reported that the infighting in the anti-choice movement has gone public in Kentucky, where the National Right to Life Committee and its Kentucky affiliate are endorsing incumbent Mitch McConnell, and a small fringe group called Northern Kentucky Right to Life is endorsing his Tea Party challenger, Matt Bevin.

Like in the similarbattle playing out in Georgia, the issue is whether anti-choice politicians should vote for abortion restrictions that include exemptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest. National Right to Life and its allies, while they oppose rape and incest exemptions, are willing to support bills that contain them if that’s the only way the bills can pass. The more hardline groups, like Northern Kentucky Right to Life and the national Personhood USA, oppose any bill that contains such exemptions.

McConnell has called for the Senate to pass a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, already passed by the House, that contains a rape exemption. Bevin, meanwhile, filled out a questionnaire from the Northern Kentucky group agreeing to its hardline anti-choice, anti-contraception demands.

This has caused some confusion in Kentucky, as Bevin has touted the endorsement of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, and National Right to Life and Kentucky Right to Life have scrambled to clarify that they are not affiliated with the Northern Kentucky group and in fact support McConnell.

Now, according to National Right to Life, Bevin is sending around a mailer that “questions the pro-life convictions” of McConnell, citing Bevin’s endorsement by the Northern Kentucky group. NRLC is furious, and is blaming Bevin for playing into the hands of pro-choice groups:

Today, leaders of National Right to Life and Kentucky Right to Life sharply criticized a mailer sent to Kentucky voters by Matt Bevin’s campaign, which questioned Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s strong commitment to the pro-life cause.

Both National Right to Life and Kentucky Right to Life reaffirmed their unwavering support of Sen. McConnell for re-election in a joint statement last month.

“Matt Bevin is trying to mislead pro-life voters,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “No U.S. senator has done more for unborn children than Mitch McConnell.”

Both Tobias and Montgomery reiterated that endorsements made by the organization Northern Kentucky Right to Life (which Bevin cites in the mailer) do not represent National Right to Life or Kentucky Right to Life. Northern Kentucky Right to Life is not affiliated with either National Right to Life, the oldest and largest national pro-life organization in the country, or Kentucky Right to Life, the state affiliate of National Right to Life and the oldest and largest statewide pro-life organization in the Bluegrass State.

Right Wing Round-Up - 4/18/14

Beck: Matt Bevin Is A 'Founder Quality' Candidate Who Has 'Been Called By God'

On his radio broadcast today, Glenn Beck warned that if Sen. Mitch McConnell is re-elected, organizations such as his The Blaze or Breitbart.com will not be allowed to operate as independent media outlets and Tea Party groups will find themselves being targeted by the IRS in retribution.

Beck asserted that Comcast is refusing to carry his The Blaze network because of political pressure from people like McConnell before warning that if he gets re-elected, he will use to IRS to decimate all those Tea Party groups and media outlets who supported his opponent Matt Bevin, whom Beck declared to be a "Founder quality" man who has "been called by God."

Bevin, Beck said, is "a guy I really, truly believe has been called by God. I really do. I met that guy and I was talking to him and I was like 'oh my gosh.' I mean, the Spirit jumps off of that guy. He's Founder quality and I'm talking to him and he left the room and I looked at Pat and I said 'do you feel that?' and he said 'oh yeah.' I said 'that guy's called from God.' This is a guy we prayed for":

Paranoia-Rama: Hitler's 'Super Gay' Race, Gun Tracking Bracelet Myth & Another Bogus Religious Right Persecution Story

RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.

Did you know that it is illegal to be a Christian in America? Or that World War II was all about promoting homosexuality?

Probably not, but you might just think that if you get all of your news from the paranoid world of the Religious Right media.

5. Hitler’s Gay Dream

Religious Right talk show host Rick Wiles is not happy about the growing support for gay rights in America, which he believes is really the fulfillment of Adolf Hitler’s dream to engender a “race of super gay male soldiers” that would “slaughter” Christians.

According to Wiles, Nazism and World War II had nothing to do with promoting the supremacy of the “Aryan race,” but were all about Hitler’s plan to create a Christian-killing “homosexual special race.”

His guest, BarbWire editor and pastor Jeff Allen, unsurprisingly agreed.

4. Gays Targeting South Carolina For ‘Recruitment’

South Carolina Republicans are fighting the scourge of gay “recruitment,” which apparently has become a major problem in the Palmetto State. State senator and US Senate candidate Lee Bright, for example, is worried that the “homosexual agenda” has “seized the educational establishment” and has gone on “full march in our institutions of higher ed and we’ve gone from education to indoctrination.”

Fellow GOP state senator Mike Fair similarly fears that a lesbian comedian is “recruiting” students into homosexuality at the University of South Carolina-Upstate, and wants to punish the school along with the College of Charleston for their “glorification of same-sex culture.”

3. Gun Tracking Bracelets A-Comin’

It didn’t take long for conservative media outlets to disseminate the false claim that Attorney General Eric Holder announced he would be exploring “gun tracking bracelets” as part of a looming crackdown on gun rights. Of course, Holder never said that he would be tracking gun owners through bracelets.

As Erich Lach of TPM writes, Holder only “talked about ideas for gun safety technology including finger print identification and a bracelet that ‘talks to’ a gun, to allow use only by the lawful owner,” a technology that many gun manufacturers are working to develop.

Naturally, the story moved up from right-wing pundits to GOP politicians like Mitch McConnell and Sarah Palin, who pushed the gun tracking bracelet myth regardless of the actual facts.

2. Religious Right Persecution Story Debunked, Again

It’s time for another bogus Religious Right tale about persecution in schools, this time in North Carolina. Conservatives were outraged when a teacher allegedly tried to dissuade a student from writing a short essay about how Jesus is her hero, and now there is a phony photo circulating of an essay marked with “F: Remove Jesus Please!”

However, as the myth-busting website Snopes points out, the school explained that the only reason the teacher spoke to the student about the assignment was because the student approached the teacher and told her she is having problems writing it.

“Our school has recently been the target of intense negative publicity in numerous forms of the media,” the school’s principal said in a statement [PDF], noting that at no point was the student pressured to drop Jesus as the subject of the essay and that the finished product “is still entitled, ‘Jesus is my Hero.’”

As is often the case, right-wing activists quickly jumped at the first cry of “persecution!,” without waiting for the facts of the case to come out.

1. Christianity Made Illegal!

Back in 2011, a seniors group affiliated with the Traditional Values Coalition sent out mailers with the headline “Christianity Now Outlawed,” warning that President Obama has declared the Bible to be “illegal hate literature.”

Of course it wasn’t true, but conservative activists every year seem to come up with new ways to claim that it is now against the law to be a Christian.

Just this week, Family Research Council head Tony Perkins said that the gay rights movement is transforming America into Nazi Germany, while Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage maintained that Christians are now facing anti-religious Jim Crow laws.

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer took the ridiculousness to a new level, declaring that “it is now a criminal offense according to the Supreme Court of the United States, it is now a punishable offense, you can be fined for being a Christian in the United States of America. For living, behaving as a Christian, it has now become a crime in the United States of America.”

Matt Bevin Takes Radical Anti-Contraception Stance To Win Endorsement From Fringe Anti-Choice Group

Yesterday, we noted that a long-simmering feud in the anti-choice movement – between extremists who will accept no legislation short of banning all abortions and anti-choice pragmatists who advocate a more incremental approach to toward the same goal – has bubbled to the surface in GOP Senate primaries in Colorado and Georgia.

Today we learn that a similar public feud is taking place in Kentucky, where National Right to Life and its state affiliate Kentucky Right to Life have endorsed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, while a smaller, more extreme group – with a deceptively similar name – is backing McConnell’s Tea Party primary challenger Matt Bevin, who has promised the group that he would take radical anti-choice and anti-contraception positions.

National Right to Life and Kentucky Right to Life sent out a press release yesterday to “reaffirm” their endorsement of McConnell and to make clear that Northern Kentucky Right to Life, the group that endorsed Bevin, “is not affiliated” with either group. “Pro-life voters need to come together to re-elect pro-life Sen. Mitch McConnell and defeat pro-abortion Alison Lundergan Grimes,” pleaded Kentucky Right to Life director Margie Montgomery.

But Bevin’s campaign has been pushing the Northern Kentucky group’s endorsement hard.

Bevin landed the endorsement last week after he gave “100 percent pro-life answers” to the group’s candidate questionnaire. Although we couldn’t find a copy of Bevin’s answers, a version of the questionnaire posted by another candidate shows that in order to earn a 100 percent rating, Bevin would have agreed to support a radical “personhood” amendment to the US Constitution (which could ban some common types of birth control), support legislation making it “a criminal offence to perform, to assist with, or to pay for an abortion on another” with the only exception being to save the life of the pregnant woman, to impose an anti-choice litmus test on judicial nominees, and even to work to prohibit Medicaid funding for standard birth control pills.

When the Louisville Courier-Journal asked Bevin’s campaign about the anti-contraception position, they dodged, answering: "Matt stands in lock step with conservatives who oppose all use of taxpayer money for abortion."

Northern Kentucky Right to Life takes a strong stance against contraception access: one recent newsletter from the group features an article called “The Pill Kills," and another calls abortion and contraception part of a “massive Ponzi scheme” to undermine the economy.

Bevin welcomed and touted the Northern Kentucky group’s endorsement, saying “It is such an honor to receive the endorsement of the Northern Kentucky Right to Life. This stalwart group has a long history of fighting tirelessly for life in Kentucky, and I’m grateful to have their support. It is encouraging to see our campaign’s pro-life, pro-family, and limited government message grow across the state.”

But Bevin’s extremism doesn’t mean that McConnell is a moderate on reproductive rights. Instead, McConnell’s a great ally of the larger national groups that are taking a more incremental approach to gradually erode the right to choose. So, while Bevin’s promised to support a Personhood amendment – which is radical but has very little chance of going anywhere – McConnell led his party to support a measure that would have allowed any employer to deny their employees birth control coverage in their health care plans.

Not to mention the fact that Northern Kentucky Right to Life already has a senator in its court. In 2010, Sen. Rand Paul also answered “yes” to every question on the group’s questionnaire, and earlier this month he introduced a “fetal personhood” bill to outlaw all abortions.

At Grimes’ Fundraiser, Clinton and Kentucky Dems Call Out GOP Obstruction

Weighing into one of the most watched Senate races this election cycle, Bill Clinton spoke at a campaign event in Louisville on Tuesday putting his political weight behind Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is challenging Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Clinton took the opportunity to call out Republican obstruction in government, alluding to the “dumb way” the GOP has tried to run the country:

In the end that’s really what Alison is telling you: ‘Send me to Washington and I’ll do something that makes sense and if there’s a problem with it, I’ll fix it.’ And the other … choice is to just pout if … your party is not in the White House, and make as many problems as you can, stop anything good from happening, and if you can’t stop it at least badmouth it. And then … when there’s a problem do everything you can to make sure the problem is never fixed. … It’s a dumb way to run a country.

Speaking before Clinton, Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth held the Minority Leader accountable for his horrible record of big money in politics, putting it pithily:

[He] is the one who says money is speech. If you have money, he’ll listen.

PFAW

Challenges & Opportunities: 2014 Political Landscape PFAW Telebriefing

On a recent national activist teleconference, pollster Geoff Garin of Hart Research Associates told PFAW supporters that 2014 could see challenging mid-year elections for progressives. Garin said 2013’s rollout difficulties with the Affordable Care Act, Tea Party obstructionism, and sliding poll numbers for President Obama stand out in voters’ minds. But he also highlighted opportunities for change, including the push to unseat GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and Tea Party Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin.

Following trends like Terry McAuliffe’s gubernatorial win in Virginia, Garin observed that Democrat Michelle Nunn is well positioned to win in Georgia. Garin and PFAW Political Director Randy Borntrager both noted that as Republicans continue to move further to the right, Democrats who represent a new, positive direction stand to pick up seats in swing areas because of voters’ frustration with obstructionism and division.

You can listen to the audio of the teleconference here:



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PFAW

McConnell to Participate in Recess Appointments Case

The Roberts Court will let the GOP leader participate in oral arguments in a constitutional case that his party's obstruction engendered.
PFAW

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.”

Fact Checker Rewrites History of GOP Obstruction of Judicial Nominees

When Democrats have filed cloture on judicial nominations, it has been a response to unprecedented GOP obstruction.
PFAW

Revisiting McConnell’s Obstruction and the 2014 Kentucky Senate Race

The 2014 elections are quickly heating up in Kentucky. Two weeks ago, Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin announced his plans to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Republican primary, setting off a round of vicious attack ads from McConnell’s campaign almost instantly.  Even more troublesome for McConnell though than Bevin’s primary challenge is the prospect of a general election fight with Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who announced her candidacy in early July and who is expected to coast through the Democratic primary.  According to a poll released on July 31st, Grimes is leading McConnell by 2% in a potential head to head race, and is polling 15% higher amongst those who have heard of both candidates – McConnell, a longstanding incumbent, currently enjoys substantially higher name recognition.

Although Grimes and Bevin are polar opposites on the political spectrum, they both are in agreement on one thing: Senator Mitch McConnell is vulnerable.  Polling data released in April revealed that a full 54% of Kentuckians disapprove of McConnell’s job performance in the Senate, while only 36% approve.

Such numbers should not come as a surprise to any casual observer of the Senate.  McConnell is the king of gridlock, and has become the personification of DC dysfunction.  Kentuckians, like the rest of the country, have grown understandably fed up with his tactics.

Earlier this year, Public Campaign Action Fund explored McConnell’s obstruction in a report entitled, “Cashing in on Obstruction: How Mitch McConnell’s Abuse of the Filibuster and Other Senate Rules Benefits His Big Money Donors.” Among other findings, the report revealed that McConnell’s repeated and unprecedented use of the filibuster has benefitted the interests of his campaign backers.  The report’s case studies were particularly instructive.

In March of 2012, on the very day debate began on a bill that would have repealed Big Oil subsidies, McConnell received an astonishing $131,500 in campaign contributions from Texan oil donors.  Three days later, the bill was blocked by a filibuster.

In April of 2009, the House passed the “Helping Families Save Their Homes Act,” a bill that included a provision that would have granted bankruptcy judges more flexibility to modify mortgages for homeowners facing foreclosure, and that would have cost the country’s biggest banks billions of dollars in profits.  That provision failed to receive the necessary 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and didn’t make it into the Senate version of the bill.  Over the course of his career, McConnell has received $8.7 million in campaign contributions from Wall Street interests.

In 2010 and 2012, despite overwhelming public support for providing transparency in election spending, McConnell led the charge against the DISCLOSE acts, bills that would have closed current loopholes in federal election law and brought Citizens United-empowered “dark money” groups to light.  Those groups – 501c4 non-profits and 501c6 trade associations – spent at a 5:1 ratio in favor of Republicans like Senator McConnell over Democrats in the 2012 election cycle.

In March of 2010, John J. “Jack” McConnell (no relation) was nominated to the District Court of Rhode Island, after successfully litigating against asbestos, tobacco, and lead paint interests on behalf of consumers.  Jack McConnell faced substantial opposition from trade associations that represent those interests, like the Chamber of Commerce, and from Senator McConnell, who, after filibustering the nomination and delaying the vote so that it took a full 420 days to be confirmed, stated for the record he resented Jack McConnell’s “persistent hostility to American job creators.” Senator McConnell has received, it should be noted, $1.7 million in campaign contributions from the insurance industry alone.

McConnell’s career campaign contributions by sector
Source: Public Campaign Action Fund

Yet beyond obstructing the governing process to the benefit of his campaign backers, Senator McConnell has also pursued obstruction for the sake of gridlock itself.  As People For the American Way continues to report , McConnell’s treatment of judicial nominees has been particularly abominable.  The obstruction of Jack McConnell, a district court nominee, was not an aberration; it was part of a strategy of judicial obstruction that, under McConnell’s continued abuse of Senate rules, has become standard practice.  During the eight years that President George W. Bush was in office, only one federal district court nomination was filibustered, requiring the majority to file a cloture petition; so far under President Obama, Republicans have forced Democrats into 20 such filings for district court nominees. 

There’s a price to pay for unremittingly representing corporate interests, and for being the leader of an assault on the Senate’s functionality.  And the American public, and the state of Kentucky, are well of aware of who’s to blame.

PFAW

McConnell Bobs and Weaves on Judicial Nominations

McConnell tries & fails to justify filibuster of DC Circuit nominee Srinivasan, and throws a GOP-supported 10th Circuit nominee under the bus in the process.
PFAW

As Washington Begins Debate on Gun Violence Bills, National Responses Vary

As the U.S. Senate prepares to consider a package of gun violence prevention proposals this week, the current debate on the role of guns in society has led to a variety of legislative responses in D.C. and across the nation.
PFAW

After Long Delay, Senate GOP Finally Agrees to Confirmation Votes on Connecticut and Maryland Judicial Nominees

Washington, DC – This afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid overcame Republican roadblocks to schedule confirmation votes on two highly qualified district court nominees from Connecticut and Maryland. Michael P. Shea of Connecticut has been a partner of a law firm with extensive experience in a range of civil and criminal cases, and Paul William Grimm of Maryland has served as the Chief United States Magistrate Judge for Maryland for six years. Both nominees have outstanding credentials, were approved by the Judiciary Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support, and both have the support of their home state senators. Nevertheless, for no reason other than a desire to obstruct Senate business, Republicans have blocked efforts to allow confirmation votes. Shea has been waiting seven months for a vote from the full Senate and Grimm has been waiting for five months. These will be the first votes on judicial nominees since September.

“We are pleased that these two exceedingly qualified nominees will finally receive their confirmation votes,” said Marge Baker of People For the American Way. “It’s shameful that the Republican minority has forced them to wait this long for simple up-or-down votes. These delays directly impact Americans seeking their day in court. In Connecticut, the judicial vacancy crisis is so severe that the Chief District Judge had to bring in out-of-state judges to help relieve the caseload. Senate Republicans must now allow votes on the remaining 17 nominees who were long ago approved by the Judiciary Committee and have needlessly been forced into limbo month after month after month.”

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GOP Bad Faith on the Pace of Confirmations

Since a bipartisan agreement on judges ended in May, the rate of confirmations that Republicans have consented to has plummeted.
PFAW

Senate GOP Refuses to Allow Votes on 17 Judicial Nominees; Sharp Break from Past Practice

Washington, DC – Senate Republicans today refused to allow a vote on 17 pending federal district court nominees before leaving for recess. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid requested unanimous consent to take up and confirm all 17 district court nominations on the calendar. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell refused, despite the fact that most of the nominees have strong bipartisan support and some have been waiting as long as five months for a Senate vote. Twelve of the pending nominees would fill seats that the Administrative Office of the US Courts has declared “judicial emergencies.”

There is strong precedent for the Senate confirming district court nominees before the end of a President’s term in office. In September of 2008, the Senate confirmed President Bush’s ten remaining district court nominees by unanimous consent one day after they were approved by the Judiciary Committee.

“Under the leadership of Sen. McConnell, Senate Republicans have taken obstruction to a new level,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way. “Never before have district court nominees been subject to this amount of partisan obstruction. Democrats have been forced to file cloture petitions to break filibusters on 20 of President Obama’s district court nominees, compared to just one each under Presidents Bush and Clinton. President Obama’s district court nominees have had to wait three times as long as President Bush’s just for an up-or-down vote. This has nothing to do with the quality of the nominees -- once they reach a vote, the vast majority have been approved nearly unanimously. Indeed, most of the 17 nominees that the GOP rejected today were approved with bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee. All have had the support of their home-state senators, Republican and Democratic.

“This obstruction has nothing to do with the nominees and everything to do with the GOP’s desire to obstruct Senate business at all costs. These costs can be seen in the twelve judicial emergencies that remain vacant because of this obstructionism. Senators Reid and Leahy are right to prioritize the confirmation of these nominees. Backlogs in the courts are ultimately passed down to Americans seeking justice. Mitch McConnell and the Senate GOP must stop playing political games with our courts.”

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