Wow! (Some) News Outlets Actually Tell Public About This Filibuster!

Dave Johnson

Republicans filibustered an appeals court nominee today. This is, of course, not surprising. What is surprising is that news outlets are telling the public!

Today Republicans in the Senate used the filibuster to obstruct the nomination of Robert Bacharach’s to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, even though the nominee had very strong bipartisan support. Republicans have been blocking judges since Obama took office. Almost 10 percent of all appeals and district court judgeships are vacant. Some federal courts are 1/3 vacant.

A problem — the news media hasavoided telling the public about the filibusters, which would give the public the information they need to help them decide if they want to hold Republicans accountable for obstruction. They have instead used words like “blocked” or even reporting them as “Democrats fail to win…”

So how was today’s filibuster reported?

Washington Post: Republican filibuster blocks confirmation of Oklahoma judge who had bipartisan support,

Bacharach’s home state Republican senators, Tom Coburn and James Inhofe, said the nominee was well qualified but they went along with the approach. They voted present.

CNN: Senate Republicans filibuster Obama judicial nominee

Even the Washington Times: Filibuster blocks Obama’s court appointee

AJC: Finger pointing flares after GOP filibusters Oklahoma judge

Others still say “blocked,” etc.

LA Times: Senate GOP blocks popular judicial nominee, halts confirmations

Politico: GOP senators block Obama judicial nominee Robert Bacharach

Fox: Republicans block confirmation of Oklahoma judge

HOW Many Times?

Just how much have Republicans been using the filibuster to obstruct government? The number is in the hundreds. Ezra Klein, The history of the filibuster, in one graph,

What you’re seeing here are the number of “cloture” motions in every congressional session since 1919. Cloture is the procedure used to break a filibuster. Between 1919 and 1975, a successful cloture motion required two-thirds of the Senate. Today, it requires three-fifths, or, in cases where all 100 senators are present and voting, 60 votes. As you can see, the majority is having to try and break many, many, many more filibusters than ever before.

…The issue today isn’t that we see 50, or 100, or 150 filibusters. It’s that the filibuster is a constant where it used to be a rarity.

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