Sen. Coburn Invents A Precedent For Obstruction

January 30, 2012 10:15 am ET — Jamison Foser

Sen. Tom Coburn

Senate Republicans are threatening to block President Obama's judicial nominees for the remainder of the year, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) claims Democrats began to block President Bush's nominees earlier than June of his final year in office:

Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said he thinks [Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick] Leahy started holding nominees up earlier than June. Coburn said it might be appropriate for Republicans to start halting Obama's appeals court picks in March.

"I think that's kind of the rule now," he said. 

Coburn is wrong. 

On June 2, 2008, the Judiciary Committee approved two Bush district court nominees. On June 12, the committee approved two Bush circuit court nominees and a district court nominee. On July 7, it approved four Bush district court nominees. And on September 25, the committee approved ten Bush district court nominees. All 19 judges were confirmed by the full Senate.

On July 17, 2008, despite the fact that the Judiciary Committee had approved four Bush nominees just ten days earlier, Coburn joined seven other Senate Republicans in issuing a statement complaining that Bush nominees were not moving through the Judiciary Committee and announcing a boycott of committee hearings. In that statement, Coburn said:

One of our highest constitutional responsibilities in the Senate is the consideration of judicial nominees. If the Judiciary Committee agenda does not include nominees, there is little point in attending its meetings. I hope the Chairman will take note of Republicans' absence and schedule nominees for both hearings and markup without further delay.

Apparently that changes when the president is a Democrat.

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