Durbin: There is No Excuse for Senate Republicans to Ignore Their Constitutional Responsibility

Senator delivers history lesson on the Senate Floor, looking back to 1943 when the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court Justice in the midst of World War II

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – As Senate Republicans continue to refuse to give any Supreme Court nominee a fair hearing, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) reminded his colleagues that even when the United States was fully engaged in the Second World War, the Senate moved swiftly to consider and confirm the nomination of Wiley Rutledge to the Supreme Court.


“On January 27, 1943, American bombers from the 8th Air Force conducted the first American air raid over Germany. On January 30, Japanese aircraft torpedoed and sank a cruiser named the U.S.S. Chicago in the South Pacific. Sixty-two men lost their lives. Over a thousand survived due to a daring and swift rescue. The nation was clearly engaged in war. There was every reason in the world for the President and even the United States Senate to say this is no time to talk about a Supreme Court vacancy,” Durbin said. “But instead, the President and the United States Senate, even in the midst of World War II, understood their obligation under the Constitution. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for Wiley Rutledge on January 22, just eleven days after his nomination had been sent to the Hill by President Roosevelt.”


Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.


In February, Senate Republicans announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee will not hold a hearing on a Supreme Court nominee, and that senior Republican Senators will decline to meet with that nominee, as is customary.


Since the Senate Judiciary Committee started holding hearings on Supreme Court nominees a century ago, no pending Supreme Court nominee has ever been denied a hearing. In fact, in the past three decades it has taken the Senate an average of about two months to consider Supreme Court nominees from nomination to confirmation.


Durbin has served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for 18 years, during which time he has considered the nominations of four current Supreme Court justices. He is also the Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, formerly known as the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights. The Subcommittee has jurisdiction over all constitutional issues.