In his opening comments, Lindsey Graham raises the agreement reached by the Gang of 14 and the standard they set: that filibusters of judicial nominees could be allowed only in extraordinary circumstances.
Senator Susan Collins has already said that she doesn’t think that the “extraordinary circumstances” threshold has been met by Senator Kagan’s nomination, which should be obvious to any impartial observer.
But we shouldn’t forget that most Republicans didn’t embrace the standard set by the Gang of 14. They argued that a filibuster of a judicial nominee was unconstitutional in all cases. It wasn’t about politics, they claimed. It was a principled commitment to the Constitution. Senator Sessions, for his part, was unambiguous about his stance.
“One of the many reasons why we shouldn't have a filibuster, an important one, is Article I of the Constitution. It says the Senate shall advise and consent on treaties by a two-thirds vote and simply 'advise and consent' on nominations,” he said in a 2003 floor statement. "Historically, we have understood that provision to mean -- and I think there is no doubt the Founders understood that to mean -- that a treaty confirmation requires a two-thirds vote, but confirmation of a judicial nomination requires only a simple majority vote."
So none of the Republicans would ever try to filibuster a judicial nominee. Right?