Did Senate Republicans had maximum number of filibusters on Obama court nominees?

According to Senator Ben Cardin, D-Md, Republicans did the maximum number of filibusters made on former Democratic President's judicial nominees. He even claimed that it was the largest in United States Senate history.

Democratic claims

This assertion came from Senator Cardin while he was being interviewed by Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday. The latter had asked whether Democrats fell into a strategic mistake by taking the decision to filibuster Neil Gorsuch's nomination to US Supreme Court. The Democratic Senator responded by saying that both the parties are to blame. He reminded his host that Republicans followed the same tactic when the Democrats were in power.  The Republicans changed the rules of the Senate to smash through the Democratic filibuster. They blamed the Democrats for making the necessary changes.

Senator Cardin was not the only Democrat to make such a claim. Cornell Belcher, the former DNC pollster, in his interview to ABC, said that Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, blocked the maximum number of nominees put forward by Obama compared to any other in history.

Such claims should be taken with a pinch of salt. Although the term “filibuster” was thrown all over the place by Cardin, experts are of the opinion that the term encompasses a broad meaning. Lawmakers regard filibuster as any kind of activity which obstructs the scheduling of any nomination or its measure.


Experts thus expand that filibusters should be counted where the Senate tries to smash a filibuster. This is done by forcing to start the cloture process. The latter is an up vote or a down vote. Even a few years ago, a motion of cloture needed the approval of a minimum of 60 senators. Democrats, however, changed rules in 2013. Under the new rules, a simple majority will be enough to start cloture. This new rule was applicable for lower court nominees and presidential appointments. The threshold of 60 votes remained valid for Supreme Court and legislation. The Republicans went one step further. They simply did away with the threshold of 60 votes for the Supreme Court nominees. The number remained valid for legislation.

To say it short, Cardin used “filibuster”, a vague term when it came to describing “cloture”, measurable Senate parliamentary process. He would have been correct in his assertion if he did not concentrate on the “judicial” nominees. It is seen that cloture got filed on a total of 36 judicial nominations when President Obama was in power. This is equal to the total of previous 40 years.

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