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In a Senate judiciary committee hearing last week. Texas Republican John Cornyn leveled a very typical Republican complaint to try to deflect the blame for vacant judicial seats from filibustering Republicans: It's all President Obama's fault for not making nominations. That was a mistake. Here's Sheldon Whitehouse and Patrick Leahy, reminding him how it actually works.

"I don't see why you need additional judges when there have been multiple vacancies that have been left without nominees for years," Whitehouse said. "I have an issue with that."
Cornyn said his answer to that was "simple:" It's Obama's fault.

"The president's got to nominate somebody before the Senate can act on it," Cornyn said. [...]

"Based on 38 years experience here, every judgeship I've seen come through this committee during that time has followed recommendations by the senators from the state," Leahy said. "You have to have recommendations from the senators, especially since I've been chairman, because ... as the senator from Texas knows, if senators have cooperated with the White House and the White House sends somebody they disagree with ... I have not brought the person forward, even when it's been importune to do so by the White House."

According to public records the Alliance for Justice reviewed, Cornyn hasn't forwarded any names for consideration for the seven vacancies in his state to the Obama administration. One of those vacancies has languished 1,733 days, another for 1,034 days. Cornyn wants to pretend that the Republican boycott of the entire process of advice and consent doesn't exist. Good on Whitehouse and Leahy for reminding him.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon May 13, 2013 at 05:45 PM PDT.

Also republished by TexKos-Messing with Texas with Nothing but Love for Texans.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Must be Obama's fault? (9+ / 0-)

    It is getting old, boyos.

  •  Great. Now let's target John Cornyn in 2014 (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skip945, 417els, ljm, Creosote, Dodgerdog1

    My patience is wearing thin.

  •  Dear Mr. Cornyn... STFU... (0+ / 0-)

    you're embarrassing Texas...

    what a dip$h!+

    Radical Activist Homosexual Agenda: 1. Equality 2. See #1

    by skip945 on Mon May 13, 2013 at 05:50:49 PM PDT

  •  [Democratic Facepalm] (0+ / 0-)

    John Kerry himself couldn't have found words more impenetrable for the general public to make his point.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon May 13, 2013 at 05:54:05 PM PDT

    •  Difference: John Kerry is not a dumbass (3+ / 0-)

      Of course, we all know this.  Kerry didn't run the best presidential campaign in 2004 but then again, you can't fault him for lack of knowledge on any given topic.  Several people I met at the Kerry campaign in 2004 (namely those in the East Bay in California) mentioned that if you try to debate him, good luck.  Oh and Kerry is a giant in person so he's quite a towering figure.  I've seen him at events before.

      But one thing to note:  John Cornyn is a Bush ally and has a long history in Texas with President Bush.  That alone says everything.

  •  Ground control to Major John. (2+ / 0-)

    Just saw the space station video...singing David Bowie.

    Truly, the space station is nearer to Earth than the minds of Cornyn and his creepy fellow travelers who are in orbit far, far away from reality.

    "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 Mon May 13, 2013 at 06:01:36 PM PDT

  •  Looks to me like the RepoNazi are trying set a (0+ / 0-)

    precedent for when they have the WH to bypass Senate recommendations and just try to ram through their ideologies, so they can put radical right wingers into Democratic dominant states over the wishes of that state's elected leaders.

    Keeping in context that all of the Texas State Supreme Court Justices are radical right wingers who have a nasty habit of inventing law and ignoring actual law to suit their ideology
    there is good reason to think of the Republicans as Nazi.

  •  Conryn's a tool, but . . . (3+ / 0-)

    Obama has been terribly slow at forwarding nominations, not just for judgeships, but also the agencies.

    Also, didn't there used to be a system where judicial committees were created in states without Senators in the President's party?  I know for a fact that a friend of mine was nominated (and fairly easily confirmed) to a federal judgeship, and his name was not forwarded by his state Senators of the opposite party.

    Why wait for Conryn to nominate someone?  Obama should nominate and then point the finger at whoever is blocking the nomination.  Leahy's attitude of not going forward with a non-home state Senator vetted candidate invests the obstructionists with power.  Nominate good people, rather than expect the Conryn's of the world to forward good nominations.

  •  Blame Reid, Durbin, Schumer and Leahy (6+ / 0-)

    Here's your problem, right here:

    " if senators have cooperated with the White House and the White House sends somebody they disagree with ... I have not brought the person forward"

    WTF is wrong with Dem leadership in the Senate?  They allow the Cons to obstruct the entire process with filibusters and Leahy's ludicrous position on nominations and then complain that they can't get anything done.

    There is no valid reason to allow 60 votes to be the minimum necessary to pass everything.  There is no valid reason to let Cons block all nominations.  If Dem Senate leaders grew a pair, they could actually get something done.

    Don't hold your breath for that.  And stop blaming the Cons for doing whatever they can to game the system.  Blame the fools who make the rules.

  •  The follow up question (7+ / 0-)

    should have been, "Does the Senator from Texas waive the right to any special privileges for selecting nominees from Texas from this day forward?"

  •  Better yet, Obama: "Dear Mr. Cornyn, STFU" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The President, who I still admire -- tho' I agree with many that he blows hot & cold -- could do Harry Reid a solid here.

    Remember, Brother Harry did a pinky swear with Mr. Turtle that the filibuster rules needn't be reformed based on some sort of "gentleman's agreement" (although methinks the only time some of McConnell's crew think of themselves as "gentlemen" is when they go into the room with that particular sign on it seeking some good old fashioned Larry Craig-style wide-stancin' "fun").

    So, Harry feeks like he's painted into a corner cuz his buddy Mr. Turtle is demonstrably a lying sack o' shit but Harry's hamstrung by some of his own Dem members (I can hear people shouting "Levin" but don't forget my own homestate wilter, Chuck Schumer) who got big-time vapors when a serious effort to restore small "d" democracy to the undemocratic upper house was possible.

    This is where the Prez could be -- sounds weird, but I'll say it -- a "leader."  

    What if he took some of his long-standing judicial nominations, along with Gina McCarthy and whoever else is still standing as proposed agency heads, and said:  "Harry -- esteemed leader of the august debating society that IS our US Senate -- George W. Bush was right.  Ronald Reagan was right.  Every Republican pissant that ever said "my party's nominee deserves at least an up-or-down vote" was right!. The American government cannot operate effectively under these interminable and inexplicable delays.  If I do not get an up-or-down vote on these nominees within 60 days, please make an immediate change to the Senate Rules (which can be done by simple majority) to provide that long-lingering nominations must be decided --one way or another -- within a specific timeframe."

    This first occurred to me when I saw that some rock-worshippers were calling for Obama to fire the head of the IRS.  I think he would be well within his rights to say "I ain't firing nobody from a post requiring Senate conformation unless you ideologues show me that I could ever get a replacement I nominated up for a final vote.  Ball's in your court!"

    Of course, "balls" are what seems to be in short supply on our side, and subbing for cerebral cortex in the loyal opposition.  Still, a boy can dream.....          


    When the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called "the People's Stick." ~ Mikhail Bakunin

    by Sick Semper on Mon May 13, 2013 at 06:20:18 PM PDT

  •  Shame on you, Joan (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paytheline, Observerinvancouver


    This is a very important story, but you've put a terrible, deeply unhelpful spin on it.

    As other people are pointing out, Republicans being jerks is as much of a story as water being wet. The real story and question here is - why on earth have we been letting republicans get away with not recommending senators for, in Texas' case, nearly five years?

    We knew they were filibustering - and because we knew, we've at least been able to pressure Harry Reid and make it a cause. Now I find out they've been pre-obstructing even the creation of any nominees at all for Obama's entire first term, and Pat Leahy hasn't so much as publicly complained; has generated no media on it, has done diddly-squat - and when Obama Adminstration has put forth nominees without Republican recommendations he has **refused to bring them to the committee????

    What on earth? Listening to this quote from Leahy makes my blood boil in my veins:

    "Based on 38 years experience here, every judgeship I've seen come through this committee during that time has followed recommendations by the senators from the state," Leahy said. "You have to have recommendations from the senators, especially since I've been chairman, because ... as the senator from Texas knows, if senators have cooperated with the White House and the White House sends somebody they disagree with ... I have not brought the person forward, even when it's been importune to do so by the White House."
    Pat Leahy, and this is not an exaggeration, has been literally a helpful, cooperative enabler of John Cornyn's effort to block the Obama admin completely out of the courts. This is Stockholm Syndrome.

    Pat Leahy needs a primary. It's completely, totally inexcusable behavior. It's a bad idea to let Republicans reccommend judges even when they are actually willing to do it - if the Republican Senate or GWBIII asked Democratic Senators for recommendations I will eat my hat -but when they refuse to recommend and you let the entire process just grind to a halt????????.

    It makes me sick that Leahy has gone with this, and you, Joan, are being hugely irresponsible at giving Leahy an attaboy for... what? A snarky comment in a hearing while he does absolutely nothing of substance while Cornyn mounts an invisible total boycott of Texas circuit judges for five freaking years??????

    •  Semi-apolgy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Observerinvancouver, Creosote

      I would go back and moderate the title of this comment a little. It may even violate some kind of norm about not criticizing people by name, although I don't know if that applies to front-pagers and diarist authors.

      I haven't done one one-millionth of the good Joan has done here, and I may have used some hyperbole in judging how wrong this spin is.  I really do think it is very, very wrong to give Leahy a pass for enabling this kind of behavior, I do think enabling is the right word. It's an easy mistake to not really look at twice when one is busy, and I hope that some rethinking is done about exactly how easy we want to let the Senator from Vermont off the hook for what the article reveals him to has done.

      It really is scandalous, and totally, totally inexcusable that Patrick Leahy is refusing to consider administration names unless republicans recommended them first. I've been wondering why Obama won't just nominate people for all these vacancies for years, now. Years.

      And now we know why. Because republicans have to recommend the people he noimates first?????!!!????!!!???!??? And Pat Leahy is obeying this system??? and defending it???

      There aren't enough exclamation points, or question marks, in the world.

      The DC Circuit has four vacancies, a 4-3 republican majority, and it is single-handedly responsible for making the EPA tie itself in knots for fear that any rule it makes about power plants will be killed by that court.

      If Pat Leahy's rule applies to DC circuit nominees as well, Pat Leahy has killed the prospect of carbon emissions decline in this country.

      Seriously, this is Lieberman-level behavior.

      So I'm sorry to have spazzed out at Joan, but this is the most incredible combination of horrible and completely missed by progressive bloggers I have ever seen. Ever.

      •  I mean (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alice kleeman

        I would go back and moderate the title of the original comment a little, if I knew how to edit comments. I don't though. I guess it stands as a testament to how mad I am at Pat Leahy.

      •  Since the District of Columbia has no senators, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that's not what's going on there. It's straight-up filibustering (see Halligan, Caitlin), plus Grassley trying to reduce the size of the court to keep it in Republican control.

        In any case, the hearing seems to have been about district judgeships, in which senators have much more input. And yes, this has been the practice under Republican admins as well, although blue-slip policies have varied over time with each side tweaking to its advantage when it had the power.

        Leahy didn't invent senatorial courtesy, and if we can't get the filibuster meaningfully reformed or elect enough Democratic senators, I can't blame him for declining to tilt at that particular windmill. To what end should the President nominate people who have no chance, and know they have no chance, of being confirmed? What would you expect to be the quality of nominee willing to twist in the wind in those circumstances?

        By the way, it hasn't been a complete standstill: there have been six Texas district judges confirmed during the Obama administration, though there are currently six vacancies, one quite recent, out of 52 in the state.

        •  May I point out the backload of cases (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Villanova Rhodes

          and the various judges who are stepping in to try to keep up with the caseload in Texas?  There are judges coming in from retirement, others addi ng to the number of cases, and meanhwile the judicial system grinds to a snail's pace.

          Don't ask me, ask the Texas Bar:

          In December 2009, district judges on senior status
          accounted for 21.2 percent of case terminations and 26.8
          percent of all trials.   “It would require 174 [extra] district
          judges in regular active service to do the case work performed by judges in senior status in that year.” Similarly, for the regional courts of appeals, judges in senior status accounted for 17.8 percent of appeals participation in 2009. “It would require 24 additional circuit judges in regular service to do the case work performed by circuit judges in senior status in 2009.”

          I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

          by tom 47 on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:25:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's a huge problem, but your comment is (0+ / 0-)

            more that a bit misleading, by referring to the caseload in Texas while citing statistics for the entire country. The problem is not evenly distributed, and that article was not about Texas. Backlog is not the same as caseload, and some of the Texas districts have a considerably smaller backlog than many other districts. (Larger districts generally have more resources to keep up with the backlog precisely because they have more local senior judges. I'm not advocating that as good policy, and would rather see more active judges, but just stating facts.)

            My citing the number of confirmed judges in Texas was not to dismiss the problem, but to respond to Decorous Contrarian's apparent misapprehension of the state of affairs:

            why on earth have we been letting republicans get away with not recommending senators for, in Texas' case, nearly five years?
            Of course Texas needs more judges (particularly the Eastern and Western Districts), and more judgeships (particularly the Eastern District). What it doesn't need is failed judicial nominees, which was the gist of my reaction to Decorous Contrarian's rage against Senator Leahy. People have to ask: If it comes down to taking the nominee selected/approved by Cruz and Cornyn or letting senior judges pick up the slack, which should the President choose? I don't know that it's the right, good-government answer, but I'm pretty sure I'd be spending my capital on courts where I could make a real difference in a Democratic direction, and waiting for the litigants of Texas to pressure their senators to git 'er done.
        •  To answer your question (0+ / 0-)
          And yes, this has been the practice under Republican admins as well, although blue-slip policies have varied over time with each side tweaking to its advantage when it had the power.
          That's an awfully vague description you pose. I recall reading that blue-slipping was  manipulated during the GWBIII administration to cut Democratic Senators out of the process. I challenge your statement.
          To what end should the President nominate people who have no chance, and know they have no chance, of being confirmed?
          Because a filibuster at least gets some press and media attention. A filibuster adds to a list of cloture votes that is compiled and used as evidence in a case for the nuclear option, for doing something about it, for at least putting pressure on the Republicans to stop fucking filibustering, or else. A filibuster, or, as you put it, "a nominee that has no chance of being confirmed" is a demonstration and exhibit of the problem and a justification for solving it once and for all- destroying the judicial filibuster. ASAP. Because it already only exists during Democratic Administration, as the sordid history of the Bush admin vs. this one demonstrates. We are absolutely being fucking rolled.

          Whereas, allowing John Cornyn to cause people to not even be nominated due to bullshit refusal to participate in a pre-nomination privilege leaves even high information activists having no idea what's going on and why BO just won't nominate people. Do you know how many stories I've seen blaming Obama for not nominating people as much as the Republicans for filibustering?

          I hope this answers your question. Not even nominating people - and what, waiting for John fucking Cornyn to have a change of heart? is equivalent to handing over permanent Republican control of a judiciary that will only become more emboldened to gut his every action like a stuck pig.

          •  What do you challenge about that statement? (0+ / 0-)

            There's a ton of literature to support it. It's "vague" because it would take a diary or more to lay out the nuances, but here's a recent recap:  Role of Home State Senators PDF. Lots of references in there if you want more evidence.

            Along with giving the history of the tweaks to the blue slip practice and senatorial courtesy, that report gives examples from both Democratic and Republican administrations where opposing party senators were consulted and even given practical veto power -- including Senator Barack Obama when GWB named an Illinois district judge.

            Obviously, the more power a president's party has in the Senate, the more dismissive of the other party's senators he can be. (Hatch took a hard line early in Bush's presidency, but he couldn't hold it.) But in this case, truly both sides have operated in the same way for the better part of a century. My hunch is that senators like Cruz will overplay their hand and give the Democrats a reason to abandon the traditions including pre-nomination consultation, but until the filibuster is reformed or enough Dems elected to counteract the obstructionists, it's a waste of time and nominees when there are other judicial positions to fill on more influential courts. YMMV. Nobody's asking Cornyn for his suggestions about D.C., or California, or any of the other non-Texas positions. You overstate his importance.

            Most of your comment seems to concern tactics, about which we just disagree. I didn't see the public getting exercised over the enormous number of filibusters we've seen during this administration, but sure, maybe one more will do the trick. Meanwhile, there are multiple, longstanding vacancies in states with two Democratic senators. Yes, I blame the President for not getting it together to fill those positions. If you don't, fine. But I'm skeptical that either of us is better equipped to advise him than his Vice-President, who served on the Judiciary Committee for decades and chaired it for several years.

    •  Stockholm Syndrome! Oh course! The Dems have (0+ / 0-)

      been held hostage for so long by the Republicans that think part of their election mandate is to grovel and toady for every crumb the republicans condescend to bestow on them.  It's sickening.  

      We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. B. Franklin

      by Observerinvancouver on Mon May 13, 2013 at 06:59:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  oh he is such an ass (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Blood, Creosote

    I worked with his Houston office several years ago on a Hispanic outreach grant, and absolutely pitied his staff for having to put up with him. He'd show up for the grandstanding, but was an absolute do nothing on anything that really counted- just harass and berate the staff to both do nothing and make him look while doing said nothing.

    Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

    by postmodernista on Mon May 13, 2013 at 06:33:10 PM PDT

  •  What the heck is wrong with the Dems that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psnyder, Creosote

    they can't get traction with stuff like this?  Even the most low information voter can understand Cornyn's absurdity.  

    We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. B. Franklin

    by Observerinvancouver on Mon May 13, 2013 at 06:42:37 PM PDT

  •  Judicial Nominees (0+ / 0-)

    Frankly, as a Democrat, I'm inclined to agree with Cornyn. Since they won't make recommendations, the President should just go ahead and make nominations and the Judiciary Committee can then act on them.
    Why wait on Republicans who refuse to submit names?

  •  "Whine" is right. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Cornyn is as disingenuous as they come, refusing to acknowledge that he has played any part at all in the broken judicial nomination process, much less that he has any culpability for it.

    The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

    by psnyder on Mon May 13, 2013 at 07:08:28 PM PDT

  •  I'm sorry.The civility is nauseating.Call HIM OUT! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Even I, a lowly professor, know the state senators first nominate the judges knowing who is in the white house and who may get through the process. Senator Cornyn is a pure idiot. He behavior here is one reason why I find Republicanism so vulgar.

  •  Careful thought on new judges (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I really want to see judges appointed who know the law and the history of how American law was created.  Judicial nomiees with biases need to be rooted out, so cases can be heard based on what would bring justice to the parties and not based on politics or ideology of a politically appointed hack of a human being who wants the power to be a judge.  Then, by all means, we've got to get these empty seats filled.

    Shine like the humblest star.

    by ljm on Mon May 13, 2013 at 09:28:08 PM PDT

  •  Time to modify the tradition (0+ / 0-)

    President has to wait a month for Senators to send names up, after that, it doesn't matter.

    "The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little. " --Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by jg6544 on Mon May 13, 2013 at 09:55:40 PM PDT

  •  Cornyn is a jerk (0+ / 0-)

    has always been one and always will be one and he should be called out every time he opens his mouth.

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