Sen. Sessions’ Newfound Love For the Filibuster

Back in 2005, when the Gang of 14 came together to thwart the Senate Republican majority’s efforts to end the use of the filibuster against President Bush’s judicial nominees, Sen. Jeff Sessions could barely hide his disappointment that he and his Republican colleagues did not get the chance to deploy the “nuclear option”:

I am disappointed that this agreement did not provide the other nominees the right to a vote. I was prepared to support the Constitutional option, because these systematic filibusters amounted to an affront to the Constitution and could not be allowed to stand. I hope that all nominees will now receive fair treatment in this body and that the character assassinations and filibusters will disappear.

But now times have changed and Sessions is writing op-eds in the Washington Post saying that for Republicans not to filibuster President Obama’s nominees would amount to “unilateral disarmament”:

To be clear, I believe that the president is entitled to a reasonable degree of deference on his judicial nominations. I supported more than 90 percent of President Bill Clinton’s judicial nominees, and I hope I am able to do the same for President Obama, even if they would not be my top choices.

But I take seriously the Senate’s constitutionally mandated role to “advise and consent,” and I am obligated to oppose nominees who have demonstrated either an unwillingness to subordinate themselves to the Constitution or a desire to advance a political, social or economic agenda from the bench.

This year, a number of my colleagues and I have voted against just three judicial nominees, including Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Only in the case of Judge Hamilton have we raised a procedural objection to Majority Leader Harry Reid’s desire to proceed to a vote.

For Republicans to ignore the changed rules would be to acquiesce in a system where 60 votes are needed to confirm judges nominated by Republicans, but only 51 are required to confirm judges nominated by Democrats. To allow such a double standard would be akin to unilateral disarmament.

So Sessions hated the filibuster when it was being used against President Bush’s nominees and wanted to get rid of it entirely, but was unable to do so due to an agreement among a handful of Senators, and now he is that it would be irresponsible for him not to launch filibusters against President Obama’s nominees, despite saying just a few years back that he hoped that “filibusters will disappear”?

And for the record, Sessions’ claim that he’s “voted against just three” of Obama’s judicial nominees means that he’s voted against fully 30% of Obama nominees … that would be akin a Democratic  senator having voted against nearly 100 [PDF] of President Bush’s judicial nominees.