Kevin Daley, DCNF
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said Sunday that her party should not have invoked the so-called nuclear option and abolished the legislative filibuster for judicial nominees.
The remarks come just before Judge Brett Kavanaugh will appear for confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republican lawmakers expect Kavanaugh will be confirmed if he acquits himself well at the hearings.
“I would’ve liked to see 60 votes, no matter what the judge is,” Klobuchar told NBC. “I don’t think we should’ve made that change, when we look back at it. But it happened because we were so frustrated, because President Obama wasn’t able to get his nominees.”
But Klobuchar added that neither party is likely to reimpose the filibuster over judicial nominations, since doing so would cede a huge tactical advantage.
“I don’t think anyone’s going to want to hamstring themselves,” she said.
Democrats changed Senate rules in 2013 after a protracted Republican filibuster blocked three Obama nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the court on which Kavanaugh sits. All three nominees, Judges Nina Pillard, Patricia Millett and Robert Wilkins, were later confirmed.
The GOP followed suit in 2017 when Democrats successfully filibustered Justice Neil Gorsuch’s nomination, extending the Democrats’ prior rule change to include Supreme Court nominees.
Klobuchar sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be one of 21 lawmakers to question Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings, which begin Tuesday.
Other Judiciary Committee Democrats have conceded that abolishing the filibuster was a mistake — Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware told CNN in November 2016 was a useful “emergency break” to stop the nomination of extremists.
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