Everything You Need To Know About the GOP’s Filibuster Threat

I’ve already written several posts about the unprecedented letter all 41 Senate Republicans sent to President Obama warning him that if they didn’t approve of his judicial nominees before they were made, they would not hesitate to filibuster them, pointing out that their current stance hypocritical and diametrically opposed to everything they said when President Bush was in office.

Today, the Washington Times ran an article pointing this out:

When it comes to judicial nominations, Republican senators are finding themselves defending hills they sought to storm just a few years ago.

Republicans sometimes ignored home-state senators’ objections to nominees and threatened to change the rules to end filibusters on nominations when they held the majority and the presidency — but today, those same Republicans argue home-state consultation is sacrosanct and are promising their own filibusters if Democrats don’t respect them.

So what is the GOP’s response?  Basically to shrug their shoulders and blame the Democrats:

Getting all 41 Republicans on board — just enough to sustain a filibuster — was a major accomplishment.

It also required that some senators go back on their previous positions, but Republicans said it’s more important that Democrats, not Republicans, be consistent.

“We’re not asking Leahy to follow the Hatch position; we’re asking Leahy to follow the Leahy rule,” said a senior Republican Senate official involved with judicial nominations. “Senator Hatch isn’t chairman now, and he wasn’t chairman for the last couple Congresses.”

“What we’re just asking the chairman to do is maintain the same position in this administration that he had in the previous administration — and that is, if a favorable blue slip is not returned on a nominee, then that nominee is not processed,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to disrupt ongoing negotiations over confirmation of nominees.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky supported the move to end judicial filibusters under Republican control, but last week he defended Republicans’ right to use a filibuster now.

“I don’t think that was a threat; it was just an indication that we intended the policy to continue,” he said in explaining the Republicans’ letter.

Mr. Hatch, the man who decided to disregard the blue-slip tradition in 2003, said there’s a distinction between his own actions as chairman and what Republicans are threatening now.

“The ‘blue slip’ policy operates at the committee stage, while the recent letter focuses on the next stage, when a nominee reaches the Senate floor,” he said.

Of course, the main distinction between Hatch’s actions when he was chairman under Bush and now is that Hatch is no longer chairman and Bush is no longer president and so the standard he set of ignoring blue slips and moving forward on Bush’s nominees is apparently no longer relevant.

Interesting, isn’t it, how the GOP is explicitly demanding that Leahy not use the very standard they put in place for George Bush’s nominees.