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President being hypocritical
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The issue of judicial nominations causes an outbreak of hypocrisy in both political parties, and President Obama isn't immune. In fact, he seems to have come down with a particularly bad case lately.
On June 4, the president went to the Rose Garden to deliver a lecturing speech announcing three candidates for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Noting it’s the president's constitutional duty to nominate judges and the Senate's duty to provide advice and consent, a clearly frustrated Obama said, "Time and again, congressional Republicans cynically used Senate rules and procedures to delay and even block qualified nominees from coming to a full vote. As a result, my judicial nominees have waited three times longer to receive confirmation votes than those of my Republican predecessor."
Obama's claim seems heartfelt, but it isn't anywhere near true. As it happens, the Congressional Research Service has just done a study comparing judicial nominations in the first terms of several recent presidents. The study noted how long each president's nominees waited from the day they were nominated to the day they were confirmed.
When it comes to the circuit courts of appeals, the level just below the Supreme Court, Obama's nominees have actually moved through the Senate faster than those of his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush. The CRS study found Bush's first-term nominees waited an average of 277 days for confirmation, while Obama's waited 240 days. So not only did Obama's nominees not wait three times longer than Bush's, they actually made it to the bench faster.
As for the U.S. district courts, the study found Obama's nominees have waited an average of 222 days, while Bush's waited 156. So Obama's picks waited longer before confirmation -- but nowhere near three times as long.
Of course it's true Senate Republicans are sometimes acting out of partisanship in delaying Obama's nominations. And in his Rose Garden speech, the president conceded that his party has been guilty of that, too.
But it's not just Democrats. It's Barack Obama himself.
According to Senate Judiciary Committee records, there were a total of 122 confirmations during Obama's time in the Senate. Sixty of them were approved by voice vote or unanimous consent. That left 62 roll call votes for confirmation. Sen. Obama missed 13 of them. But of the 49 confirmation votes he participated in, he cast a "no" vote in eight: two Supreme Court nominations and six circuit court nominations.
In addition, Obama voted to filibuster one of the Supreme Court nominations, for Samuel Alito, and also tried to derail circuit court nominees William Pryor, Leslie Southwick and Janice Rogers Brown.
Obama hasn't had it any worse than his Republican predecessor. Indeed, when one takes away all the umbrage and unsubstantiated statistics, Obama's Rose Garden message to Senate Republicans was very simple: Don’t do unto me as I did unto you.
Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.