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"Holds" and Private Political Fights
Unformatted Document Text:  36 FEC nomination captured five Circuit Court nominees and an additional eleven District Court nominees, as well as dozens of other executive nominees. Similarly, Larry Pressler’s Institutional Hold in 1992 over judgeships in South Dakota affected only two Circuit Court nominees but also blocked 29 District Court nominees. While not impossible, it seems improbable that a senator would block dozens of nominees just to prevent the confirmation of one. Second, does evidence exist as to the supposed issue the blocking senator would like resolved or acted in response to? With each of the Strategic Holds counted here, clear evidence of the alleged dispute can be found. For example, while James Inhofe obviously disliked all of Clinton’s nominees, he made his intentions clear weeks before each Retaliatory Hold was placed that he would use such holds to protest Clinton’s use of recess appointments for controversial nominees. Additionally, key senators played in active role in trying to split the 9 th Circuit, and Senate Judiciary Committee members worked for months to get the DOJ to release certain documents about the Whittlesay affair before resorting to placing holds on judicial nominees. While such evidence of the alleged disputes is not entirely conclusive, it at least demonstrates that senators are not blocking nominees based on false allegations, and that they many times resort to holds on judicial confirmations only after other avenues of resolution have failed. Third, if senators are placing wide-spread holds in order to block particular nominees, do holds ever remain on particular nominees after a hold is lifted on some? The answer is a definitive “no”. In no instance did a hold which affected multiple nominees end as a hold only affecting one nominee indefinitely. In fact, even all of the ideological holds observed herein were eventually lifted, and all of the blocked nominees confirmed. The only instance of a hold being slowly removed occurred with Howard Metzenbaum’s hold in 1988 on six judicial

Authors: Steigerwalt, Amy.
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36
FEC nomination captured five Circuit Court nominees and an additional eleven District Court
nominees, as well as dozens of other executive nominees. Similarly, Larry Pressler’s
Institutional Hold in 1992 over judgeships in South Dakota affected only two Circuit Court
nominees but also blocked 29 District Court nominees. While not impossible, it seems
improbable that a senator would block dozens of nominees just to prevent the confirmation of
one.
Second, does evidence exist as to the supposed issue the blocking senator would like
resolved or acted in response to? With each of the Strategic Holds counted here, clear evidence
of the alleged dispute can be found. For example, while James Inhofe obviously disliked all of
Clinton’s nominees, he made his intentions clear weeks before each Retaliatory Hold was placed
that he would use such holds to protest Clinton’s use of recess appointments for controversial
nominees. Additionally, key senators played in active role in trying to split the 9
th
Circuit, and
Senate Judiciary Committee members worked for months to get the DOJ to release certain
documents about the Whittlesay affair before resorting to placing holds on judicial nominees.
While such evidence of the alleged disputes is not entirely conclusive, it at least demonstrates
that senators are not blocking nominees based on false allegations, and that they many times
resort to holds on judicial confirmations only after other avenues of resolution have failed.
Third, if senators are placing wide-spread holds in order to block particular nominees, do
holds ever remain on particular nominees after a hold is lifted on some? The answer is a
definitive “no”. In no instance did a hold which affected multiple nominees end as a hold only
affecting one nominee indefinitely. In fact, even all of the ideological holds observed herein
were eventually lifted, and all of the blocked nominees confirmed. The only instance of a hold
being slowly removed occurred with Howard Metzenbaum’s hold in 1988 on six judicial


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