Lindsey Graham, master troll: “The nomination will be reported favorably to the floor with a unanimous vote.” The Senate Judiciary Committee did indeed approve Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court 12-0, but that was thanks to a futile boycott by Senate Democrats on the panel:
JUST IN: Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously votes on nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, 12-0, as committee Democrats boycotted the roll call. https://t.co/N7iWPeQZnX pic.twitter.com/jSssZuTl5Y
— ABC News (@ABC) October 22, 2020
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to advance President Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, with majority Republicans skirting the panel’s rules to recommend her confirmation as Democrats boycotted the session in protest.
The lopsided 12-to-0 outcome set up a vote by the full Senate to confirm Judge Barrett on Monday, a month to the day after President Trump nominated her to fill the seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If all goes according to plan, Mr. Trump and his party would win a coveted achievement just eight days before the election.
“This is why we all run,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the committee, said. “It’s moments like this that make everything you go through matter.”
Democrats, livid over the extraordinarily speedy process, spurned the committee vote altogether and forced Republicans to break their own rules to muscle through the nomination. Without the votes to block the judge in either the committee or the full Senate, though, their action was purely symbolic.
The idea of the boycott was to prevent Graham from having a quorum for the vote, delaying the process indefinitely. Graham took a page from the 2013 playbook of Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid and decided to change the precedent, reverting to general Senate rules on committee hearings rather than Judiciary Committee rules. The former do not require anything other than a simple majority to conduct official business.
That squelched the “symbolic” protest today, but it also left Republicans alone at the microphones. That gave several of them a chance to vent their spleen at Democrats for having authored this bare-knuckle approach in 2002 as well as in 2013:
Lee says "there is no tit for tat, there is just tat"
Says Democrats are solely to blame for the judicial wars.
"When it comes to the judiciary, abuse of power is their agenda," Lee says.
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) October 22, 2020
The borking of Robert Bork was a little more complicated by his role in Watergate. Otherwise, Lee’s on point regarding Clarence Thomas, but it didn’t develop into an overarching strategy until George W. Bush won the presidency and Republicans took control of the Senate. The example of Miguel Estrada was especially egregious, as it became clear that Reid and Schumer (and Ted Kennedy) blocked him solely to prevent Bush from putting a Hispanic on the appellate bench.
At any rate, this now goes to the Senate floor, and Mitch McConnell will move the confirmation tomorrow. Unless Senate Democrats continue to take advice from Otter on tactics and strategy, their next round of antics will keep Barrett in the news rather than Trump for the next few days, and allow even more people to wonder why they’re trying so hard to block confirmation of an obviously qualified jurist who talked rings around the no-shows last week.
Update: Also, on the rules, Ed Whelan points out the catch-22:
Plus, no one objected to absence of quorum, so any objection was waived. (Senate routinely operates on that basis.) https://t.co/OkXrFFX2eG
— Ed Whelan (@EdWhelanEPPC) October 22, 2020
Why didn’t Democrats send someone to object to a lack of quorum? Because that one person would have provided the quorum. In a Senate where people cared more about process and collegiality, this situation wouldn’t have arisen. But Democrats sacrificed process and collegiality in 2002-5 and outright slaughtered it in 2013. This is nothing more than just desserts, although Republicans have to know that they eventually will get the same treatment.
Update: Here’s the clip of Lee’s righteous indignation:
Sen. Mike Lee slams Senate Democrats: “When it comes to the Judiciary, abuse of power is their agenda.”
Remember the people Dems slandered and destroyed for political reasons:
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) October 22, 2020