A couple of Democrats have, to their credit, begun to admit that they too bear the blame for how partisan the Supreme Court confirmation process has become.
Recall that a majority of Senate Democrats voted against the confirmations of Supreme Court Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch, not because of a lack of qualifications, but because of their disagreement with the nominees’ conservative “philosophy.”
Yet after a majority of Senate Republicans voted against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson on the exact same basis, a large number of Democrats and establishment media figures hypocritically cried foul, accusing them of voting against her because of racism.
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) April 8, 2022
when Thurgood Marshall was confirmed in 1967 to become the first black man on the Supreme Court, 16 of 22 senators from the 11 states of the old Confederacy voted no or didn’t vote
when Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed today to become the first black woman, 18 of 22 voted no
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) April 7, 2022
But Delaware Sen. Chris Coons wasn’t among them because, unlike so many of his peers, he appears to possess the ability to perform introspection. He demonstrated as much during an interview late this week with host Margaret Hoover of PBS’ “Firing Line.”
About halfway through the interview, she asked, “As you think about the current forces that have polarized the process, and your own votes for Trump’s Supreme Court nominees, do you stand by them, or do you think, in a different world, you might have thought about those votes differently?”
Coons replied by admitting that he’d judged Justice Gorsuch on his philosophy versus his qualifications.
“I’ve recently been talking about that with some colleagues. My office now was John McCain’s office. I think a lot about John. I was in that exact office with a bipartisan group of senators as Judge Gorsuch was being nominated for the Supreme Court. I was digging into his record and philosophy. And there was one case, the Hobby Lobby case, and I just was really struggling with it,” he said.
This prompted Hoover to ask, “But is it about his judicial philosophy or advice and consent?”
Coons replied by admitting it was the first time in his career (he assumed office in 2010) that he’d voted against a Supreme Court nominee for the wrong reasons.
“He’s imminently qualified, great temperament, good writer, strong record of service, but I disagreed with his philosophy. Senator [Lindsey] Graham and I had a forceful exchange where he said to me, ‘I voted for Kagan and Sotomayor. If you’re not willing to vote for Gorsuch, what’s that mean?'” he said.
It obviously meant payback. It’s similar to how, in response to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid going nuclear in 2013, his successor, Mitch McConnell also went nuclear four years later.
“I will own that I’m a part of this problem and recognize that, with Sen. Graham saying in this process he’s voting against her, he was the last one on the committee who had a history of voting for qualification, not for or against philosophy,” Coons concluded.
To be clear, Coons also voted against Kavanaugh and Barrett.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin has also been displaying some introspection, though critics fear his may not be as sincere as that of Coons.
Note that Coons made his remarks after Jackson’s Thursday confirmation. Durbin meanwhile made his remarks a day before the confirmation.
“To take one or two situations, each of them unique in their factual circumstances, and to generalize in terms of her position on an issue of that gravity is fundamentally unfair,” he said, presumably referring to Republicans’ attacks on Brown’s lax sentencing of child sex offenders.
Durbin then added, “But we’ve done it too on the Democrat side, and I’m gonna be first to admit, as I look back in history, there are things that should have been handled better when Republican nominees were before us.”
However, immediately after Brown’s vote the following day, he issued a statement thanking the few Republicans who’d voted with Democrats and risen “above the partisan fray.”
DURBIN: “Thankfully, there are members in the Senate who are willing to rise above the partisan fray. I want to particularly commend Senator Susan Collins of Maine, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Senator Mitt Romney of Utah for their political courage.” pic.twitter.com/1sHcRKAtxV
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) April 7, 2022
The attack line about “partisan fray” wasn’t appreciated.
“Dick Durbin doesn’t get to make this argument. Dick Durbin voted against Amy Coney Barrett, against Brett Kavanaugh, and against Neil Gorsuch. He voted against Samuel Alito. He even voted against John Roberts — becoming one of only 22 senators who did,” National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke argues.
“The partisan fray”? Dick Durbin is ‘the partisan fray,'” he adds.
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