Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa says he plans to shut down the judicial confirmation process this summer and that objectors should thank his Democratic colleague, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont and Strom Thurmond, the Republican senator who died 13 years ago.
But Leahy, who once talked openly with Thurmond about the cutoff date for approving judges when the South Carolinian was the panel’s top Republican, says Grassley is picking the wrong date.
Leahy moved nominees through the end of September 2008 when George W. Bush was president. In reality, he says, he was just kibitzing with Thurmond. “We were joking because, God rest his soul, Sen. Thurmond, that rule would change depending upon who was president.”
Of course that’s easy for Democrats to say now, when their party controls the White House. Grassley says the “Leahy-Thurmond” rule will kick in once Congress departs for its summer break at the end of July, though he will allow for limited exceptions.