Washington Times chief political correspondent Donald Lambro claimed that Democratic filibustering of judicial nominees is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. In fact, the Constitution makes no mention of filibusters, but explicitly empowers the Senate to determine its own rules, and Senate rules allow for unlimited debate on any subject, including judicial nominees.
Lambro wrote in an April 28 “Commentary” column for The Washington Times:
But applying the filibuster rule to prevent the Senate from carrying out its constitutionally granted authority to approve or disapprove each judicial nominee clearly violates our nation's governing document.
The “constitutionally granted authority” Lambro referred to is the Senate's authority to provide “advice and consent” to the president's nomination of judges and other officials, as explained in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution. But Lambro failed to note that the Constitution also grants the Senate authority to “determine the Rules of its Proceedings,” according to Article I, Section 5, Clause 2. Rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate allows unlimited debate “upon any measure, motion, other matter pending before the Senate” unless a three-fifths supermajority vote is achieved to invoke cloture (end the debate and force a vote).
Lambro attacked Democrats as “undemocratic,” and “the minority that does not have that right” to prevent a vote on a judicial nominee. He failed to note that Republican senators prevented approximately 60 of President Clinton's judicial nominees from even receiving a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, much less a vote on the Senate floor.
On April 27, Lambro wrote a “hard news” article for the Times, titled “Judicial battle seen as attack on faith,” reporting on the emerging religious character of the filibuster debate. In that article, Lambro lent credence to the baseless claims on the part of some religious conservatives that Democrats were opposing nominees because of their religion: “Meanwhile, moderate Democrats have warned their party that attacking religious Americans over cultural and social issues in the political arena can only hurt the party's chances of expanding its base in the next election.”