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Mitch McConnell
Sen. Mitch McConnell (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Senate Republicans filibustered the nomination of D.C. Circuit Nominee Caitlin Halligan Tuesday, with the cloture vote failing 54-45.
Tuesday’s final roll call vote on cutting off debate was 54 to 45.. One Republican – Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) -- joined all 53 members of the Democratic caucus in voting to move ahead with Halligan’s nomination, leaving the former New York state solicitor general six votes short of the 60 votes necessary for ending debate.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who has never voted to filibuster a judicial nomination, voted "present."

President Obama said in a statement that he was "deeply disappointed" by the filibuster and argued that Halligan's nomination "fell victim to the Republican pattern of obstructionism that puts party ahead of country."

"Today's vote dramatically lowers the bar used to justify a filibuster, which had required 'extraordinary circumstances,'" Obama said. He charged that Senate Republicans "are blocking 20 other highly qualified judicial nominees" who "historically would be confirmed without delay."

As David Dayen writes, this pretty much blows the Gang of 14 to hell, the group of senators who agreed as a bloc that only "extraordinary circumstances" would bring them to filibuster a judicial nominee.

This spells the end of the Gang of 14, as members of it like Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe all voted against cloture for Halligan, despite no extraordinary circumstances involved in the case. Chuck Schumer said on the floor that there would be "lasting consequences" for this violation of the Gang of 14 agreement. I hardly believe this will bring the nuclear option back into play. So Senate Democrats can show everyone what they've got.

In a statement, Marge Baker of People for the American Way wrote that “Today’s vote has kept a talented lawyer from the bench, at least for the moment, but it has also set a new standard for D.C. Circuit nominees that will be virtually impossible for any president of either party to meet. Halligan’s nomination should not have been at all controversial– she is decidedly moderate and unquestionably qualified. If someone so unquestionably qualified and backed by top legal figures from across the political spectrum can be blocked by a filibuster, then who can’t be?”  This is someone who Miguel Estrada wrote a brief supporting.

The escalation of obstructionism from Senate Republicans will only change when they pay a price for the obstruction.

There's no question that this was a filibuster for the sole purpose of keeping an Obama judicial nominee off the bench. But what price Democrats could extract at this point isn't clear.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 02:56 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (27+ / 0-)

    "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." —Warren Buffett

    by Joan McCarter on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 02:56:54 PM PST

  •  The word should go out: (4+ / 0-)

    "Okay, assholes, when your side gets the presidency, if there are 41 of us, NONE OF YOUR APPOINTEES WILL GET IN." Turnabout is fair play.

    May you live in interesting times--Chinese curse

    by oldcrow on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 03:10:24 PM PST

  •  Here's what you need to know about Halligan (13+ / 0-)

    There's nothing at all controversial about Halligan.  She's impeccably qualified, and her views are utterly mainstream. Republicans just don't want a Democrat to fill a seat on the DC Circuit with a talented woman who can serve there for decades.

  •  Gang of 14 Republicans aren't scared of Halligan. (15+ / 0-)

    They're scared of Republicans.  McConnell has staked the entire strategy on obstruction, so anyone who doesn't obstruct is considered an obstruction themself.

  •  This must be the "up or down vote" they're so (7+ / 0-)

    fond of demanding when it's a Republican judge.

    Everything old is Newt again.

    by here4tehbeer on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 03:24:30 PM PST

  •  fili-busterers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The GOP would filibuster the Obama turkey pardon!

  •  Wait. So how is this any sort of "escalation of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, duckhunter, Simplify

    obstructionism"? The Senate GOP has been filibustering noncontroversial bench nominees for the last three years.

  •  Republicans are soft on crime (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    For the GOP, keeping our judicial system away from actual criminals is politics as usual.  They'd rather see the perp walk and then point fingers than reduce crime.


    "What doesn't have credibility today is the truth." -- Bill Moyers, The Daily Show 6/22/05

    by Baron Dave on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 03:36:37 PM PST

  •  Murkowski's comment on her website: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mungley, bear83
    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Murkowski today voted to allow Caitlin Joan Halligan of New York an up or down vote to be United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit in a cloture vote that failed 54-35. She offered the following explanation afterwards:

    “I stated during the Bush Administration that judicial nominations deserved an up or down vote, except in “extraordinary circumstances” and my position has not changed simply because there is a different President making the nominations.

    “Let me be clear to my constituents and the President of the United States: This was a cloture vote to proceed to an up or down decision.  I did not support Ms. Halligan’s candidacy and would never have voted for her confirmation”

    I was about to leave her a thank you note, but the fact that she doesn't support the candidacy at all makes me less inclined to say thanks.

  •  LOL (0+ / 0-)

    Lasting consequences...

    OOOHHHH I'll bet they're so scared they remembered to laugh.

    "Take the only tree that's left, stuff it up the hole in your culture." --Leonard Cohen

    by marknspokane on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 03:38:29 PM PST

  •  How about we do away with the Filibuster?! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gopre400, bear83

    If the Dems hold the Senate in 2013, they have the opportunity to make new rules at the start of the new Congress. The filibuster is NOT in the Constitution. It should be ended so progress can actually be achieved. Republicans have proved they will abuse it at every turn; there is no longer ANY EXCUSE for keeping it.

    Unfortunately, as a member of the Democratic "leadership" (for lack of a better word), my Senator, Dick Durbin, is one of the impediments to this happening....

  •  Time has come (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Capitalist, Boris49

    Sign S 1867, declare the GOP Senators and Lieberman to be allies of the Taliban, send them to Guantanamo, and proceed with a 52 member Senate that (under swiftly adopted rules of the body) will not seat anyone until 2013.

    Send John Boehner a nice postcard showing Gitmo with "Wish you were here!" on the back.

    These assholes really are assholes and it pisses me off.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 03:39:34 PM PST

  •  Gang of 14 (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jwinIL14, Sue B, bear83, Simplify

    The thing about the Gang of 14 is, the terms of their written agreement spelled out specifically that it was only effective for the duration of the 109th Congress.

    So while it's a good metric for evaluating their continuing commitment to the principles of their agreement, it's not really a violation of its terms to vote against cloture for a judicial nominee. The agreement expired in 2006.

    A more interesting note, I think, is that several Republican Senators who are on record as saying they would never filibuster a judicial appointment, because all presidents are entitled to their nominees, have now abandoned that position.

  •  Fuck these bastards and the horses they rode to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    D.C. on. They are hateful, racist and traitorous.

    "Say little; do much." (Pirkei Avot: 1:15)

    by hester on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 03:49:18 PM PST

    •  Didn't Santorum ride in on a dog? (0+ / 0-)

      He's always been one for talking about Man On Dog.... lol No wonder he got voted out.

      McConnell= Rode a Turtle!
      Boehner= Rode a Tanning Booth!
      Newt = Rode.... er.... wait....

      Above Grecian mantles were chiseled these words... Know Thyself... Nothing in Excess... the pop philosophy of its day.

      by ravagerofworlds2 on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 03:55:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I disagree that it's a matter of putting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sue B

    the party first.  It's a matter of demonstrating their power. To obstruct and destroy is a power play. By attacking an innocent victim, they're engaging in triangulation, the same strategy employed by the kidnapper and the terrorist.  Or, one could call it extortion except for the fact that there's nothing Republicans want, but to feel self-important.

    Pathetic!  McConnell is a pathetic, impotent person getting his jollies by depriving a woman of a judicial appointment. Pathetic!

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 03:51:34 PM PST

    •  Nope, it's putting party first. Because all of (0+ / 0-)

      this is an elaborate effort to hurt Obama's reelection chances. If nothing gets done to improve the economy, voters will blame him and the GOP will benefit. That's their basic strategy, and they're using whatever power they have to carry it out.

      Once they get back in charge, that's when we'll see the petty power games they like to play. Freedom fries!

  •  The rules will change again (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It Romney or Gingrich become president, they will have no difficulty getting extreme-right nominees confirmed, because enough Democrats are wimps, patsies, or conservative allies to go along.  Should they get a one-seat majority, they'll invoke the nuclear option.

    Too many Democrats don't get that Republicans play to win. It's a battle to the death to them; they only care about the rules to the extent that rules restrict the other side.  They have no intention of playing by them if they don't have to.

    In any case, at this point the Democrats don't have a large enough majority to play the nuclear option, as enough conservaDems would defect that Reid wouldn't have 50 votes.  They could have done it before the 2010 defeat, and they could have made rule changes in January 2011.  If the Republicans take the Senate, they will make rule changes.

  •  Mitch (0+ / 0-)

    He is the epitome of the Ugly American both inside and out.

    " A lot of money is tainted - taint yours and taint mine." Unknown author

    by libbie on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 03:53:11 PM PST

  •  Obama should appoint her (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    during the recess, and let the Republicans stew in it.

    But he won't, because he's "non confrontational".

    Bush appointed Pryor and Pickering, both who were extremely controversial.

    Apparently, being the chosen nominee of a black President is controversial enough for Republicans to filibuster ANY judicial appointment that Obama might make.

    Republicans totally abandoned conservatism in the 1980s ..

    by shpilk on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 03:54:11 PM PST

  •  "Up or down vote" (4+ / 0-)

    Years ago I remember hearing that repeated on the news hundreds of times when republicans demanded an up or down vote on Bush's nominees.  

    Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. Horace Mann (and btw, the bike in kayakbiker is a bicycle)

    by Kayakbiker on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 03:55:27 PM PST

  •  fillibuster of Caitlin Halligian (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The GOP is confident they will take the Senate in the 2012 election.
    They think they have a good shot to win the White House.,
    Moreover, they think they will hold the US House.

    In short, they think they have nothing to lose here.
    This is just one more little step in opposing Obama at every turn.
    They are playing uber hard ball while the Dems have played softball for years.

    •  And what if, as is probable, the Democrats hold (0+ / 0-)

      the presidency and the senate. Will there be continued obstructionism, perhaps even on a SC nomination. What if Kennedy retires or Scalia gets sick and has to resign?

      •  Unless the nuclear option is invoked (0+ / 0-)

        I doubt Obama could get another SC nominee through.

      •  GOP playing uber hard ball (0+ / 0-)

        My view is that the GOP takes Senate because the Senate map favors them next year.
        The Dems should win back some House seats, but still not win back control.
        As to White House, I give Pres. Obama edge, but it is going to be very close, indeed.
        The field of GOP Presidential hopefuls is a clown fest including Romney and even Huntsman who just flipped on global warming today.  Romney, the front runner,  would give Obama a tough battle.
        The GOP from Jan 2009 until this very day have done everything they can to defeat the President.  It is relentless and will not stop.
        The GOP wants it all:  POTUS, Congress, Supremes!

  •  "Lasting consequences" Yeah, right, Chuck (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, bear83
    Chuck Schumer said on the floor that there would be "lasting consequences" for this violation of the Gang of 14 agreement. I hardly believe this will bring the nuclear option back into play. So Senate Democrats can show everyone what they've got.

    Any idea that there would be a meaningful reaction to the Republicans' intransigence died when Harry and Mitch kissed and made up last January:

    In an agreement reached between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, the world's most deliberative body will not change its rules on the filibuster after all.

    A group of mostly freshmen senators were denied an opportunity to make changes with only a simple majority. They argue that the Senate rules allow that on the first day of a new session, the body may amend its rules with only 51 'yeas' instead of the 67 normally required. Democrats refer to this as "the constitutional option."

    But Senate leaders have agreed not to take what many Republicans and some Democrats believe would be too drastic a step.

    "Senator McConnell and I both believe that our reverence for this institution must always be more important than party," Reid said in a written statement. "And as part of this compromise, we have agreed that I won't force a majority vote to fundamentally change the Senate - that is, the so-called 'constitutional option.'"

    We must drive the special interests out of politics.… There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will neither be a short not an easy task, but it can be done. -- Teddy Roosevelt

    by NoMoJoe on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 04:09:33 PM PST

  •  Does Harry realize what a maroon he looks like, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    indie17, esquimaux, bear83

    and how much the Turtle is laughing at him?

  •  I would suggest that the Democrats (us) (0+ / 0-)

    extract a few Republicans from the Senate.

    Occupy the voting Booth!

    by anonevent on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 04:39:02 PM PST

  •  Baloney! (0+ / 0-)
    it has also set a new standard for D.C. Circuit nominees that will be virtually impossible for any president of either party to meet.

    Does anyone think for a minute this would apply to a Rethug President? Of course not! Dems will play by the old gentlemanly rules and not filibuster anyone but a raving wingnut. Of course, if the Rethugs gain control of the Senate, they simply won't allow the filibuster to be used to thwart their schemes at all.

    Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

    by Ian S on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 04:40:41 PM PST

  •  Bill Frist would be screaming up or down (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    vote every day  (and diagnosing from TV among other things)....

    why Harry Reid and President Obama don't think that is a good idea says more about them than Republicans being Republicans....

    "But once John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker, then he’s going to have responsibilities to govern. You can’t just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower." - President Obama, 12-07-2010

    by justmy2 on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 04:40:41 PM PST

  •  Apologies for Murkowski from Alaska. If only... (0+ / 0-)

    Scott McAdams.  (sigh)

  •  Filibusters have become easy & convenient (0+ / 0-)

    Filibusters should exact the price of extreme inconvenience like they used to....A personal price.

    Let the obstructionists bunk out at their desks...miss Thanksgiving, Christmas...fundraisers and offspring's' graduations.  Sleep deprived, rumpled suits should stand 24/7 reading from the dictionary or War and Peace.

    As it is, McConnell and his henchmen have only to whisper the word filibuster and VOILA!  They should be required to put their high and mighty convictions on personal display for all the world to see.  If the filibuster returned to being a long, tedious, boring, verbal marathon there would be far fewer of them. They couldn't be any LESS PRODUCTIVE that what goes on in the senate now.

    Reid has the authority do reinstate the physical filibuster doesn't he?

    "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

    by 417els on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 04:54:38 PM PST

  •  I abhor name calling..... (0+ / 0-)

    but the way the Republican party has behaved, especially since President Obama took office, seems to bring out some of my worst tendencies. I can't read something like this and not think of saying "what a bunch of proto-simian self pleasuring underthinking burro related scions of an unbranched family tree!" Pardon my crudity.

  •  Yet another lie realized by GOP. (0+ / 0-)
  •  Is it Gang of 14 because that's their cume IQ? (0+ / 0-)
  •  It is time to force Senators... (0+ / 0-)

    To stand in the well in order to filibuster any legislation, etc. They want Mr. Smith, then let's give them Mr. Smith.

    Those who are willing to sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither. (Paraphrasing B. Franklin)

    by p a roberson on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 05:16:59 PM PST

  •  Get out and work to elect more Democrats & (0+ / 0-)

    reelect Obama!

  •  The Articles of Confederation allowed too much. (0+ / 0-)

    The constitution and senate rules are affording less.


    An honest heart being the first blessing, a knowing head is the second..Jefferson's Letter to Peter Carr

    by JugOPunch on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 05:43:00 PM PST

  •  End the filibuster (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Do it and do it now.  Simple rule change, in fact, not even that, simple rule interpretation from the chair, 51 votes support it, 50 plus the VP if it comes to that, and the filibuster is gone, now and forever.

    Don't hold back from doing it out of any idea that our side will need it when we're in the minority.  Last time we were in the minority, we held back from using it to block Federalist Society stooge judicial appointees because the R majority threatened the rule change to end the filibuster.  Think they've gotten more moderate since then?  Are you a complete imbecile?

    Only one party gets to use the filibuster these days, and for the foreseeable future.  Why the other party leaves the filibuster in their hands is utterly beyond rational explanation.

    We should have destroyed the presidency before Obama took office. Too late now.

    by gtomkins on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 07:21:16 PM PST

  •  Gee, I guess it was worth it then (0+ / 0-)

    when the Senate Dems let Alito and Roberts get onto the Supreme Court, wasn't it. Yes siree, we sure preserved that precious comity and saved the holy filibuster for only really, really, really bad people.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 09:21:13 PM PST

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