(Above: Sen. Jeff Sessions blasts Senate Democrats for destroying the rights of the minority party)
WASHINGTON – On Thursday, Senate Democrats voted to do away with the filibuster as a method to block presidential judicial appointments, delivering a blow to minority party rights on nominations within Congress’ upper chamber.
Among those who opposed Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s move on the filibuster were both Alabama Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile.
Shelby castigated Senate Democrats and warned it would lead to President Barack Obama appointing radicals to the bench.
“Senate Democrats voted to force ObamaCare on the American people,” Shelby said in a statement provided to Yellowhammer. “Despite that disastrous exercise of power, they have now voted to give themselves even more of it. If Democrats think that they deserve more power, they should earn it from voters at the polls in 2014, not swipe it with a drastic rule change in the Senate today.”
“Unfortunately, this radical move will allow President Obama to stack the executive and judicial branches with radical individuals who will do anything to preserve the terrible legislation that bears his name,” he continued. “And make no mistake; today’s power grab is just the beginning.”
Sessions took to the Senate floor to voice his opposition. Alabama’s junior senator declared Reid’s rule change one of the most historically significant in the history of the body.
“I think it’s fair to say, without dispute, that the significance of this rule change today dwarfs any other appeal of the ruling of the chair that we’ve seen, maybe in the history of the republic,” Sessions said. “This is a big event and it changes what goes on here because we deal with power and the exercise of power. And this whole thing is simply Majority Leader Reid… but he’s not a dictator. He does not get to dictate how this Senate is operated.”
“He does not have the right to come in and change the rules because he wants to fill three judgeship slots that are not needed — no way close,” he continued. “There is no way you can justify filling these court slots, as based on simple need, caseload, or judge. So he’s unhappy about that. Maybe he wants to change the mood of the country from ObamaCare and the overreach that was executed here to pass that bill on December 24, to ram it through the Senate on a straight party-line vote. I suspect that’s part of it. But this is not the way to do business here.”
Sen. Reid and President Obama have argued that new judicial appointees are critical to accomplishing the work of the American people. Sessions responded to that argument directly, saying that Republicans were holding up the appointments of D.C. circuit because they would be a waste of money due to the D.C. circuit’s small caseload.
“The only reason those judges were blocked — the only reason they did not get a confirmation — was because we didn’t need them,” Sessions said. “This country is going broke. There are districts in America that need judges. The D.C. Circuit does not need more judges. It doesn’t need the eight they have. Yes, they have three vacancies, but with the current eight judges, their average caseload per judge was 149. And they’ve been continuing to drop. My circuit, the 11th circuit, madam president, you’d be interested to know, has an average caseload per judge of 740. The next-lowest caseload per circuit is twice 149.”
“The average is well above that per circuit,” he added. “Well above twice that. The judges themselves say they don’t need any more judges. They take the whole summer off. These judges would not have been rejected if we’d needed them. But the president is so determined to try to leave a legacy of friends on that court, that he just shoved them anyway and demanded that the Senate pass them. And Sen. Reid demanded that we confirm these judges. The judges say they don’t need any more judges on that court. They don’t need them, whether they say they need them or not.”
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