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Republicans Filibuster Judge Robert Bacharach's Confirmation

By Robyn Hagan Cain on August 02, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Judge Robert Bacharach has entered the ranks of filibustered judicial nominees, and he wasn’t even a controversial choice.

Judge Bacharach’s nomination was derailed this week due to the Senate’s Thurmond/Leahy Rule. The “rule” is actually a Senate custom: Senators typically do not approve judicial nominations close to a presidential election since a possible new president would want to make his or her own appointments, The Hill reports.

According to the Heritage Foundation, which opposed an up-or-down vote on Judge Bacharach's nomination, "Mr. Bacharach's qualifications or views are not the principal reason to oppose this vote. Instead, the Senate leadership knows that a vote on his nomination at this time is a violation of the traditions of the Senate, and is simply taunting Republican senators to test their resolve."

Senate Republicans blocked Bacharach's confirmation vote this week by a 56-34-3 vote, according to The Hill. Oklahoma Senators Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe voted "present" instead of voting in favor of a vote on their home state nominee. Both have previously expressed their support for Judge Bacharach.

Members of the Oklahoma legal community criticized this type of delay last month in a letter urging Sens. Coburn and Inhofe to support a vote on Judge Bacharach's Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals nomination before Congress left for recess in August, The Oklahoman reports. They wrote, "We understand that both political parties have engaged in a variety of stalling tactics, including the threat of a filibuster, regarding judicial nominations in the past ... However, this ignores the fact that this Oklahoma slot on the Tenth Circuit has now been vacant for over two years."

According to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, the vote marks the first time during his tenure that a judicial nominee who got overwhelming support on the panel was filibustered on the Senate floor, reports Politico.

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