“Senate Blocks Tenth Circuit Nominee; Could Be Last Such Vote Until After Election”

The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times has this report on the Senate’s vote yesterday to continue blocking the nomination of U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma to the Tenth Circuit.

I don’t know much about Judge Bacharach, but he is by all accounts a well-qualified and non-controversial nominee.  According to the report, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky explained that the hold-up on his confirmation is the result of a Senate tradition (the so-called “Thurmond” or “Leahy/Thurmond” rule) of not confirming nominees to posts on the federal courts of appeals during the last few months before a presidential election.

The White House and Senate Democrats disapproved of the vote, but I wonder whether their objections are based on principled opposition to this Senate tradition, or because their ox is now being gored?  It would be interesting to see whether Senate Democrats made use of this tradition to block any of President George W. Bush’s nominees in 2004 and 2008.  If they did, then it would also be interesting to learn whether Senate Republicans objected to use of the tradition.

I don’t know what happened then, but if you have information to share, please do leave a comment.

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