UPDATE: Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn voted “present,” which is like not voting at all or voting “no,” depending on your viewpoint. Bacharach’s nomination is not going to be advanced.
It’s possible that Republican Sens. Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe could determine whether U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Bacharach, of Edmond, is confirmed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Neither is saying whether they will vote on Monday to break the Republican blockade that has kept the Senate from confirming the magistrate, who has been endorsed by both Coburn and Inhofe and won overwhelming approval last month in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, set up the showdown last week, filing a procedural motion that will voted upon on Monday. That vote will determine whether the Senate can then proceed to consider Bacharach’s nomination.
It will take 60 votes to pass on Monday. There are 51 Democrats and two Independents who typically vote with the Democrats. If all 53 of those senators are present and vote to break the GOP’s election-year blockade, seven Republicans would have to break with their party’s leadership to advance Bacharach’s nomination.
Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, and Glenn Sugameli, an attorney of the Judging the Environment project, told The Oklahoman last week that they expect Republican senators from Maine, Alaska and Massachusetts to vote to help Bacharach. That would be four. They also speculated that the two Arizona Republicans could go along and that Sen. Richard Lugar, of Indiana, and Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee, might join the other Republicans.
Coburn, R-Muskogee, said in an interview Friday that he would make up his mind over the weekend. Inhofe did not respond to requests for comment last week. The vote is scheduled for 4:30 central time and will be on CSPAN2. There will be debate for an hour before the vote.
The New York Times had an editorial Sunday about the vote.
Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, is reporting that both of Maine’s senators will vote to advance Bacharach’s nomination. The two Maine Republicans have endorsed a circuit court nominee from their own state who is also being blocked. Here are quotes from Roll Call’s report:
Sen. Olympia Snowe: “I will vote to invoke cloture on the nomination of Richard Bacharach of Oklahoma to be a federal judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals because he is highly qualified, having earned the American Bar Association’s highest rating of Unanimously Well Qualified; was approved by voice vote in the Judiciary Committee; and his nomination has bipartisan support, including previous support of his home state Senators.”
Sen. Susan Collins: “I will vote to proceed to the nomination of Robert Bacharach for the 10th Circuit because he is a highly experienced and well-qualified nominee who deserves confirmation,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told Roll Call on Friday. “With very little time until the August recess, it remains my hope that the Senate will confirm Bill Kayatta of Maine, whose qualifications to serve on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals are equally impressive and whose nomination also has strong bipartisan support.”
Also, Sugameli, attorney with the Judging the Environment project, said Monday that Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, are potential votes for breaking the filibuster.