Senator Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, made the comment below about invoking the Thurmond-Leahy rule on circuit court judicial nominees. Previously, Chairman Patrick Leahy expressed respect for the informal rule. During an executive business meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 12, 2008, Chairman Leahy said, “… I want to say, I appreciate the comments of the Senator from Delaware. He knows that we are now way past the time of the Thurmond Rule, named after Senator Thurmond when he was in the minority, and I’m trying to respect that. …”
Senator Grassley’s comment:
“There’s no need to make an exception to the Thurmond-Leahy rule based on the number of circuit court judges confirmed during this presidential election year, especially compared to the last couple of presidential election years.
“The Senate considered district court nominees into the fall during the last two presidential election years but not circuit court nominees, as was said today. In fact, during both 2004 and 2008, the last circuit court nomination considered was in June. No one has suggested that no more district court nominations will be considered this year this year.
“Since 2008, the Senate has confirmed 149 circuit and district court judges and two Supreme Court Justices nominated by President Obama, and his term is not over. During President Bush’s entire second term, which was the last time two Supreme Court Justices were confirmed, the Senate confirmed a total of only 119 circuit and district court judges.
“This year, the Senate has confirmed five circuit court nominees. Likewise, in 2004, the Senate confirmed five circuit court nominees. Yet, in 2008, the Senate confirmed only four circuit court nominees. The Senate did not confirm additional circuit nominees in 2008 even though, for example, the Fourth Circuit had a vacancy rate that was more than 25 percent, and four qualified nominees were pending in the Senate for that circuit alone.
“In addition, so far this year, the Senate has confirmed 22 district court nominees. That’s three times as many nominees as the Senate had confirmed by this date in 2008, when it had confirmed only seven district court nominees. Similarly, by this date in 2004, the Senate had confirmed only nine district court nominees.
“Based on this record, it’s disingenuous to suggest that Senate Republicans have not been fair in the consideration and confirmation of judicial nominees. And, it is entirely appropriate and consistent with past practice to invoke the Thurmond-Leahy rule at this point.”