In an angry floor speech on Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Tuesday said he was “shocked and disappointed” that in his absence, the Senate agreed to cut short debate and confirm a judicial nominee by voice vote.
The vote placing Andrew David Hurwitz on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, came after the Senate invoked cloture on the nomination on Monday. Grassley opposed confirming Hurwitz, citing his views on social issues.
Grassley faulted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for moving to a voice vote rather than holding a planned roll call vote on Hurwitz. But Grassley’s gripe seemed to lie largely with members of his own party who agreed to the switch, particularly Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who managed the nomination. Kyl supported confirmation of Hurwitz, who sat on the Arizona Supreme Court. Reid could not have cut off debate without agreement from a Republican on the floor.
“I find this to be quite irregular and outside the recent precedents of the Senate,” Grassley said. “Typically, members are informed of such actions in advance. I was not so informed, and I’m the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. I certainly did not intend to yield my time. And, in fact, I intended on speaking further on the nominee.”
Grassley said recent Senate precedent has been to hold roll-call votes on appellate court nominees.
Citing a “breach of comity around here,” Grassley said the Senate functions based on trust between senators. “When the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee isn’t notified of this action of any other senator notified of this action, it seems to me that that trust has been violated,” he said.
Although Hurwitz has already been confirmed, Grassley demanded that a roll-call vote be held on the nomination, which would be a highly unusual step.