Sen. Cardin: ‘Up-or-Down Votes’ for Judicial Nominees ‘in Most Cases’

May 19, 2011 3:46pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein (@rickklein) reports: President Obama saw one of his appointees for a federal judgeship rejected by the Senate for the first time today, the victim of a Republican-led filibuster where the talking points about up-or-down votes for judicial nominees switched parties from where they belonged just a few years ago.

On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. – a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee – criticized Republicans for blocking an “eminently qualified person” in Goodwin Liu. But while Cardin himself has not filibustered a judge, he acknowledged that the tactic is acceptable in his mind in “rare, rare” cases.

“I think in most cases we have to allow up or down votes,” Cardin told us. “I think it’s got to be the rare, rare exception. Now, Goodwin Liu to me is a eminently qualified person to serve on the Court of Appeals. He has an incredible background. He has gone through more vetting and scrutiny in this congress than I think any other judicial nominee. other than a Supreme Court nominee. He has, I think, answered the questions with his heart and soul as to how he would act as a judge. And he has the support of a lot of republicans, including Ken Starr.”

“There may be a time that I think it’s appropriate [to filibuster a judicial nominee]. I think Goodwin Liu is not that — should not be filibustered, and we should have an up-or-down vote.”

Cardin applauded the Obama administration’s harder line with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

“We shouldn’t be surprised what happened in Syria. Assad has ruled that country with an iron hand. The fact that he turned on his own people should not have been a shock to us,” he said. “I think we’ve got to be on the side of the people and democracy, and we have to speak out. The president’s doing that right now. We have to let the people of Syria know that we’re going to be on their side to be able to control their own fate, and not to be subjected to a dictator.”

And Cardin – who is up for reelection next year – indicated he’d rather not get the help of the Democratic communications war room, the official Senate entity that Roll Call is reporting is an “unofficial partner” of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“I have confidence in the people of Maryland, and we’re gonna run our campaign — aggressive campaign in our state and we’ll do it from the state of Maryland,” Cardin said. “We’ll handle our own campaign. Obviously we appreciate the support we’re getting from DSCC. We have a lot of races around the nation and I’m going to help their efforts. But I think Marylanders know me and they — and we’re looking forward to a Maryland campaign.”

Watch the full interview with Sen. Ben Cardin HERE:

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