March 07, 2008

Three Numbers to Remember

As Curt points out below the battle over judicial nominations in the 110th Congress has heated up to the boiling point and is a growing factor in the race for President.

One thing I’ve noticed about the articles on Curt’s list is the willingness of the media to repeat Senator Patrick Leahy’s spin on the number of judges that have received a fair up-or-down vote in this Congress. In reality, when it comes to the fight over the current Appeals Court nominees there are three numbers to remember: 17, 14 and 6.

Seventeen is the average number of Appeals Court nominees that have been confirmed in the final Congress of the last three presidential administrations. Why are the last three significant? Because each - Reagan, Bush I and Clinton - faced a Senate controlled by the opposing party in their final two years in office, as George W. Bush does today.

Fourteen is the number of nominees that should have been confirmed as of February 29th if the Democrats had a fair up-or-down vote on one Appeals Court nominee per month. Keeping to this more than reasonable pace would have meant that the 110th Congress would have reached the historical average by June, 2008 the month that the misunderstood and misconstrued “Thurmond Rule” is normally imposed. (For an excellent break down of the historical reality of the Thurmond Rule read this blog post by Ed Whelan on Bench Memos.)

Six is the actual number of nominees who have been confirmed so far by the 110th Congress in fourteen months. In other words, about one-third of the overall historic average and less than one-half of the number that should have been confirmed at this point.

So, in the end you can forget all of Leahy’s spin and remember three simple numbers: 17, 14, and 6.

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