I’m writing in response to Brian Baker’s April 12 column titled: “The tide has turned.”
Let‘s do away with the easiest error. Justice Ginsburg was not nominated by President Carter; in fact, President Clinton nominated her to serve on the United States Supreme Court.
Now as it relates to Judge Bork. You might remember that name prior to his nomination by President Reagan – from an event during the Nixon administration called the “Saturday Night Massacre.”
I’ll give you a brief recap: after the Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox asked President Nixon for the tapes of the Oval Office conversations, President Nixon directed his attorney general to fire Mr. Cox. The attorney general refused and resigned.
The same thing happened with the deputy attorney general. Next, Robert Bork, who was the solicitor general during this time, agreed to fire the special prosecutor and did.
Flash forward approximately 15 years and Judge Bork is nominated to the United States Supreme Court. Contrary to Mr. Baker’s assertion, the judicial committee forwarded Bork’s nomination to the full Senate with a recommendation to vote “no.”
In October 1987 the Senate voted 42 for and 58 against Bork’s nomination. It should be noted that two Democratic senators voted for his confirmation and six Republican senators voted against it.
Now let’s look at how the Senate has voted since 1981 on nominees who were appointed to the United States Supreme Court: Judge O’Connor 99-0; Judge Rehnquist 65-3; Judge Scalia 98-0; Judge Kennedy 97-0; Judge Souter 90-9; Judge Thomas 52-48; Judge Ginsburg 96-3; Judge Breyer 87-9; Judge Roberts 78-22; Judge Alito 58-42; Judge Sotomayor 68-31; Judge Kagan 63-37 and Judge Gorsuch 54-45.
As it relates to President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, all the Democrats asked for was a vote. They could have held a hearing, which they didn’t.
More importantly, Senate Majority Leader McConnell stated several hours after Justice Scalia’s death that the United States Senate would not vote on a nominee until after the presidential election, summarily ejecting any Obama choice for the high court.
As to the filibuster, Mr. Baker is correct – it’s not part of the United States Constitution, but for a very long time it has been part of the United States Senate’s procedures, and up until the 1990s it was seldom used.
I believe the reason the filibuster is not entirely done away with is because the minority party wants to be able to leverage some sort of power. On average since the 1990s, control of the Senate switches between parties roughly every six years or so.
Michael Cruz is a Canyon Country resident and a former Santa Clarita Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commissioner.