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Senator Collins’ Statement on the End of the Judicial Filibuster

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins released a statement on the end of the judicial filibuster:

“In 2005, when the Senate faced a stalemate over the confirmation of judges, I was part of a bipartisan group of Senators who forged an agreement that preserved the right to filibuster judicial nominations. The core principle of that agreement was that Senators should only resort to the use of the filibuster on judicial nominations in 'extraordinary circumstances.' That standard served this body well until 2013, when Democrats used the so-called 'nuclear option' for the first time.

“I was heavily involved in negotiations with members of both parties throughout the last two weeks. It was my hope to broker an agreement that would have averted this situation and allowed a vote on Judge Gorsuch’s nomination. Unfortunately, there is so little trust between the two parties that it was impossible to reach an agreement.

“The most problematic issue was a seismic shift in the way that Senators view the standard that should be used to invoke a judicial filibuster. The majority of my Democratic counterparts simply disagree with the notion that the filibuster should only be used in the nomination process under extraordinary circumstances.

“Under the extraordinary circumstances standard, there would be absolutely no basis for filibustering this nomination. Judge Gorsuch has sterling academic and legal credentials. He has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to precedent and to the rule of law. He is an intellectually gifted judge, who has received the American Bar Association's highest rating. Yet because of this philosophical change in how Senate Democrats approach nominations, we are now dealing with the first partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee in the history of our country.

“Today’s move was perhaps the inevitable product of the elimination of the right to filibuster judicial and executive nominees implemented by the Democrats four years ago. Since that time, the partisan pressure has only intensified. While I appreciate the efforts of my colleagues who worked with me in an attempt to prevent this result, the momentum toward this unfortunate end of the judicial filibuster was simply too great to stop. If Democrats are unable to agree to have an up or down vote on a highly-qualified judge who has previously been confirmed by this body without a single objection, one has to wonder whether there is any nominee that the President could send up that they would agree to bring to a final vote.

“If Senators are going to address the problems facing the nation and the world, we are going to first have to address the problems facing the United States Senate. Change will require restoring the unwritten ethos that has made this body a model for the world for 230 years. It is an ethos built upon trust, compromise, and restraint. I hope that all of us will reflect upon this profoundly sad day for this greatest of American institutions to consider where we are right now, and what we can do to begin anew.”