Politics

Union: Blocking Supreme Court Nominees Is Bad, Unless Dems Do It

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A major union denounced Republicans in the Senate Thursday for vowing to block any U.S. Supreme Court nominee, but when the tables were turned, the criticism was lacking.

Justice Antonin Scalia passed away Feb. 13, creating a potentially major upset for several open cases. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka condemned Republicans for vowing to block any nomination, but the union wasn’t as concerned when it was Democrats doing the same.

“The stated intent of Senate Republican leaders to refuse consideration of a Supreme Court nominee is an appalling breach of their constitutional responsibilities,” Trumka declared in a statement. “The Supreme Court is not a game and the Constitution is not a toy.”

Republican Senate Majority Leader [crscore]Mitch McConnell[/crscore] announced his intent to block any nomination soon after Scalia passed away. He and other Republicans have been highly criticized for the stance. The idea, however, is not new and Democrats too have called for nomination blocks during Republican presidencies as recently as former President George W. Bush.

“The duties of the United States Senate are set forth in the Constitution of the United States,” Senate Minority Leader [crscore]Harry Reid[/crscore] said in 2005. “Nowhere in that document does it say the Senate has a duty to give presidential nominees ‘an up or down vote.’ It says appointments shall be made with the Advice and Consent of the Senate. That is very different than saying that every nominee receives a vote.”

Bush at the time had nominated Judge Samuel Alito to fulfill a Supreme Court vacancy. There is no readily available records on the AFL-CIO website or blog of the union denouncing Reid for his position. To the contrary, the union actually joined critics by condemning the Bush appointment.

“Alito has repeatedly put basic rights at risk,” then-AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney said. “It is critical that senators of both parties thoroughly scrutinize Judge Alito’s record and views on the rights of working people in order to evaluate his suitability for a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.”

Democratic Sen. [crscore]Charles Schumer[/crscore] called on the Senate to block any Bush nominee when the bench opened up again in 2007. The AFL-CIO at the time did not denounce his comments. Schumer recently responded to the criticism by claiming he did not call on lawmakers to block nominees at the time.

The AFL-CIO did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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