judicial hearing.jpgI just attended a US Senate forum on the status of President Bush’s judicial nominees, held by 8 Republican senators: Alexander (TN), Allard (CO), Cornyn (TX), Dole (NC), Grassley (IA), Kyl (AZ), McConnell (KY, Senate minority leader), and Specter (PA, ranking member of Judiciary Committee). That’s a lot of senators.
C-SPAN3 covered the hearing, of which I was unaware until I arrived, or I would have given you the heads up.
The purpose of the hearing was to dispel the so-called “Thurman Rule” excuse Democrats have lately been touting to halt the confirmation process, reiterate the emergency situation in many district courts, and underscore the erosion of the rule of law when there is such a critical shortage of judges….

I could list numbers and percentages of confirmed judges in previous administrations compared to this one but will suffice it to say, quoting Sen. Grassley, “This snail’s pace is unprecedented.”
Added Sen. McConnell, “The facts are indisputable. The current president has been treated dramatically worse – dramatically worse – than any president in the last 30 years.”
A member of the Congressional Research Service gave a short history of the so-called Thurman Rule, answering whether there really is one. (Answer: No.) I’ve excerpted his statement below for those wanting a short primer.
[Photo courtesy of CSPAN3]
Statement by Denis Steven Rutkus
Specialist on the Federal Judiciary, Government and Finance Division
Congressional Research Service
Judicial Nominees Forum
Senate Republican Conference
United States Senate
July 14, 2008


The Thurmond Rule has been expressed in various ways, differing, for instance, as to precisely when in the year the slowdown occurs. Nevertheless, almost all Senators who have cited it have characterized it as an established practice according to which, at some point in the presidential election year, the Judiciary Committee and the Senate no longer act on judicial nominations….
It is important to keep in mind that there is no written Senate or Judiciary Committee rule concerning judicial nominations in a presidential election year.
Some Senate Democrats assert that the Thurmond Rule dates back to July 1980, when Senator Thurmond reportedly urged Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, to call on Senate Republicans to block further confirmation of President Jimmy Carter’s judicial nominations.
Conversely, some Republican Senators reject the existence of a Thurmond Rule in the Senate, as well as the notion that Senator Thurmond in 1980 supported blocking judicial nominations. In short, the debate over whether there is, or has ever been, a Thurmond Rule appears to arise largely out of different meanings attached to the events involving Senator Thurmond in 1980.
A review of CRS of the public record of congressional and press sources for relevant events in 1980 revealed the following: According to brief media accounts of the 1980 Republican National Convention, presidential nominee Ronald Reagan agreed, at the urging of Senator Thurmond, to call on Senate Republicans to block all presidential nominations by President Jimmy Carter until after the November 4 elections….
Following the 1980 Republican Convention, however, the Judiciary Committee processed district and circuit court nominations, although not all of those referred to the committee. This occurred without Senator Thurmond alluding to any call to block President Carter’s appointments. The Judiciary Committee continued to hold hearings and report judicial nominations during August and September…. The Senate in turn, in September, confirmed 12 judicial nominations – 11 district, one circuit…..
CRS found that the final dates for Senate action on court of appeals nominations occurred earliest in the three most recently completed presidential election years – those of 1996, 2000, and 2004. Whereas the Senate confirmed courts of appeals nominees after July in four consecutive presidential election years – from 1980 to 1992, the Senate in the three subsequent presidential election years – 1996, 200, and 2004 – confirmed no court of appeals nominees after July.

In short, the Thurmond Rule is self-serving myth with no basis in fact.

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