It isn’t just the politicians being hypocrites on the question of filibustering judicial nominees. Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel is also expressing aggrieved outrage at the vote to do exactly what he demanded be done only a few years ago. Here’s what he said in 2005:
Liberty Counsel, as part of the National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters, recently signed a letter urging the the U.S. Senate leadership “to end the judicial filibusters at the earliest possible moment and well before a Supreme Court vacancy should occur.” The letter also pointed out that “while it is the right of the President to expect the Senate to give Advice and Consent within a reasonable period of time, it is the duty of every Senator to offer Advice and Consent through an honest, up or down vote.”
Yes, it is their DUTY to give every nominee an “honest up or down vote.” How dare those senators fail to do so! Now let’s set the wayback machine for Wednesday and look at this press release. Now it’s suddenly a “frightening power grab.”
President Obama Stacks the Court in Frightening Power GrabWashington, DC – Today, Senator Harry Reid invoked the “nuclear option” on judicial nominations, not including nominations to the Supreme Court. Under the new rules change, a judicial nominee does not need to meet the 60-vote cloture threshold and can be confirmed by a simple majority vote.
“Today’s action by Harry Reid is frightening, and every freedom-loving American should be deeply concerned,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel…
“Not only is Obama’s power grab frightening, Reid’s use of the ‘nuclear option’ is the height of hypocrisy,” says Staver. “Senate Democrats filibustered the nominations of Miguel Estrada and Janice Rogers Brown to the D.C. Circuit in 2001 and 2003, respectively. At that time, Senate Democrats argued that the D.C. Circuit’s workload did not necessitate additional judges. Since then, the D.C. Circuit’s workload has actually diminished, yet Harry Reid invokes the ‘nuclear option’ so that three more judges can be added to the D.C. Circuit,” Staver explains.
Actually, that wasn’t the argument that Democrats were making at the time. It wasn’t about workload, it was about Rogers Brown and Estrada being really, really extreme nominees (especially Rogers Brown). But even if he were right, doesn’t that make him equally guilty of hypocrisy? Of course it does. But he doesn’t even pretend to be consistent or coherent. All that matters is that the argument being made serve his agenda.