WASHINGTON—In a development that’s likely to cause fits for President Barack Obama, the Senate Democrats’ next leader, Charles Schumer, told an 2007 audience — on video — that he wanted to block any Supreme Court nominations for the last 18 months of President George W. Bush’s presidency.
That’s seven months longer than the amount of time remaining to Obama’s presidency.
The political situation in 2007 was a mirror image of the current face-off created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death. Bush was in his second term in the White House, and the Democrats had retaken the Senate in the 2006 midterm elections. The incumbent president had already made two Supreme Court appointments, John Roberts and Samuel Alito.
Schumer’s audience was the American Constitution Society (ACS), a left-wing legal organization. The society was founded in an effort to limit the impact that the Federalist Society was having on promoting conservative legal principles in American law schools, which are notoriously liberal.
On July 27, 2007, Schumer told his ACS audience:
How do we apply the lessons we learned from Roberts and Alito to be the next nominee, especially if—God forbid—there is another vacancy under this president? … [F]or the rest of this president’s term and if there is another Republican elected with the same selection criteria let me say this: We should reverse the presumption of confirmation. The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance. We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another Roberts, or Justice Ginsburg by another Alito. Given the track record of this president and the experience of obfuscation at the hearings—with respect to the Supreme Court, at least—I will recommend to my colleagues that we should not confirm a Supreme Court nominee except in extraordinary circumstances.
Schumer is slated to replace Harry Reid as the Democrats’ leader in the Senate after this year, when Reid retires.
No word yet from Schumer as to why it is acceptable for Democrats to not act on a Republican nomination to the Supreme Court for 18 months, but it is unacceptable for Republicans to not act on a Democratic nomination for 11 months.
Scalia was the faculty advisor at the University of Chicago of one of the founding chapters of the Federalist Society, a student chapter started by David McIntosh, who later became a lawyer in the Reagan administration and then a congressman from Indiana. McIntosh is now president of the Club for Growth, and vice chairman of the Federalist Society.
Ken Klukowski is legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.