Lindsey Graham is one of the career politicians who has built his life upon two-faced lies.
Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden’s judicial picks
Lindsey Graham is quietly emerging as the most frequent supporter of Biden’s judicial nominees.
“He believes presidents who win the election get to appoint judges, subject obviously to extreme cases, and I think he’s following through on it,” said Russell Wheeler, a fellow with the Brookings Institution who studies judicial confirmations.
Graham has touted his willingness to support a president’s judicial nominees even if he doesn’t agree with their philosophy, noting he was one of nine GOP senators who voted for Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination in 2009 and one of five who supported Elena Kagan a year later.
“Senator Graham has long believed that under the Constitution the president has the right to select judges of their choosing and as long as they are qualified, they should generally be confirmed by the Senate,” Graham’s office said in a statement. “This is the traditional and customary role of the Senate in the judicial confirmation process.”
Graham’s support for Biden’s judicial nominees makes him increasingly an outlier within the Senate GOP caucus, where only Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), two well-known moderates, vote for Biden’s judicial nominees on the Senate floor with roughly the same frequency.
Wheeler described Graham’s position as “the old fashioned view” that used to be more widespread in the Senate.
“The assumption always used to be that when our person is in the White House, we’ll expect the same deference from senators of the other party. That’s all out the window now. It’s now, you know, dog eat dog,” he said.
Asked about Graham’s willingness to support judicial nominees, Thomas Jipping, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, noted “that’s been his pattern probably as long as he’s been in the Senate.”
After Graham, Murkowski and Collins, support within the GOP conference for Biden’s judicial nominees drops off steeply. Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Republican, comes in a distant fourth place by supporting 12 of the 28 judicial nominees who have received roll call votes on the Senate floor so far this year.
In addition to being one of the most likely GOP votes for Biden’s picks on the Senate floor, Graham has emerged as the most reliable Republican vote in the evenly split Senate Judiciary Committee.
He was the only Republican on the panel to vote for Gustavo Gelpi’s nomination to be a judge on the First Circuit. He also broke with other GOP senators on the committee by being the only Republican to help advance Veronica Rossman’s 10th Circuit nomination.
In other instances, Graham didn’t vote for the nominees in committee but also didn’t actively vote against them, including Lee’s Second Circuit nomination where he was recorded in committee record as “pass.”
He also was recorded as voting “present” on the district court nomination of Deborah Boardman, who was advanced out of the committee in a 11-10-1 vote. Graham, along with Murkowski and Collins, backed Boardman’s nomination in a final vote on the Senate floor.
“There have been a number of senators on the Republican side that have helped us move things along,” said Sen Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “He’s one of them but others have helped too.”
But Graham’s position puts him at odds with some of the Senate’s biggest conservative firebrands, and potential 2024 candidates, who sit on the committee: GOP Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.).
Hawley has voted for none of Biden’s nominees on the Senate floor, while Cotton has voted for two.
Graham’s support for Biden’s nominees hasn’t flown totally under the radar. Fox News host Tucker Carlson railed against it in a segment earlier this year, questioning “why are conservatives continuing to promote him and allowing him to continue to sit on the Judiciary Committee?”