Interesting Op-Ed piece in the May 3 L.A. Times by David Greenberg. He’s a history professor at Rutgers University. Seems the charge that filibustering judicial appointments is unprecedented is not only false, but was actually started recently by Republicans.
To justify banning Senate filibusters in judicial nomination debates, Republicans are claiming support from history. Until now, say Republicans such as Sen. John Kyl and former Sen. Bob Dole, no one has used filibusters to block nominees to the federal courts. Because Democrats have broken an unwritten rule, their logic goes, Republicans are forced to change written ones.
But the charge that filibustering judicial appointments is unprecedented is false. Indeed, it’s surprising that so few Washington hands seem to recall one of the most consequential filibusters in modern times, particularly because it constituted the first salvo in a war over judicial nominees that has lasted ever since.
From 1897 to 1968 the Senate rejected only one candidate for Supreme Court (in 1930). However, since 1968, six candidates have been rejected or withdrawn, and four others have faced major hostility. June 13, 1968, Lyndon B. Johnson tried to appoint his long-time friend and advisor, Abe Fortas, when Earl Warren retired. On September 25, 1968, Republicans and southern Democrats started a filibuster to prevent Fortas’ nomination. Johnson eventually withdrew the nomination on Oct. 2. Look for the particulars at www.latimes.com.