Dear Senator Cantwell,
I cannot express my bitter outrage at your vote on the recent filibuster rule change last week in the US Senate. May I remind you that this rule is an essential check and balance within our Government and distinguishes our Constitutional Republic from the rest of the world by preserving the voice of the minority. It should not have been changed since it was working as intended.
Your party, as well as other minorities in the Senate, have used the filibuster in the past to block issues they didn’t agree with and to block judicial nominees they didn’t like. Without the rule, the US Senate will no longer function as a deliberative body since debate by the minority on certain issues has now been suppressed with a simple majority. This is not how a Constitutional Republic functions. The correct and respectable action would have been to leave the cloture rule in place or strengthen it to ensure minority representation.
Many Democratic senior leaders are on record opposing this type of rule change right up until the time they voted in favor of it. In my opinion, the level of hypocrisy emanating from your office and from your party leaders is well beyond the level that is acceptable for the code of conduct of a United States Senator, a disrespect to the office of the United States Senate, and calls into question your ability to meet your oath of affirmation to “without…purpose of evasion…and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.”
This rule change is clearly an intent to purposely evade issues to me and I will communicate this point to as many of your constituents as I can for I do not believe that you represent our State’s interest nor are upholding the preservation of checks and balances within our Federal Government.
If a Republican executed this, I would be equally outraged.
Dear Mr. Norton,
Thank you for writing to express your views on President Obama’s nominees to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. I appreciate your input on this critical issue.
As you may know, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is currently 27 percent understaffed. The three current vacancies were created on September 29, 2005; October 14, 2011; and February 12, 2013. On June 4, 2013, President Obama nominated Patricia Millett, Cornelia Pillard, and Robert Wilkins to fill these vacancies. On November 21, 2013, the Senate voted to change the rules for confirmation of judicial nominees from requiring the approval of three-fifths of the Senate or 60 votes to a simple majority of 51 votes. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominees are expected to be voted on again by the Senate in early December.
I take my constitutional responsibility as a U.S. Senator to advise and consent on judicial nominations extremely seriously. While I recognize the privilege of the President to select his nominees, I believe it is critical that we conduct a comprehensive evaluation of each nominee’s qualifications, since federal judges are expected to impartially interpret our nation’s laws throughout their lifetime terms.
Please be assured that I am committed to making carefully considered and independent judgments on every nominee based on a thorough review of his or her records. While I do not expect any judicial nominee to explain how he or she might rule in future cases, I do expect all nominees to make their positions clear on protecting basic rights.
United States Senator***