After the 2012 elections, the U.S. Senate reached a milestone. For the first time in our nation’s history, there were 20 female senators. The occasion spurred a brief moment of hope that the Senate might not suffer as much gridlock as it had in President Obama’s first term.
There are real differences in ideology and personality and they don’t want their gender to define them as senators.
But the women also admit that they believe having more women in the room would help in fierce negotiations, compromise and legislating on Capitol Hill, traits they say do not come as naturally to their male colleagues in the Senate. That sentiment enjoys bipartisan support among the women of the Senate.
“What I find is with all due deference to our male colleagues, that women’s styles tend to be more collaborative,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said by nature women are “less confrontational.” Sen-elect Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, says that women are “problem solvers.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., says that women have a camaraderie which helps in relationships that are key to negotiations on Capitol Hill, something she says comes natural to women more than men.
“I think there’s just a lot of collaboration between the women senators and… advice and really standing up for each other that you don’t always see with the men,” she said.
Feinstein said that women are more effective working in Congress because of these traits that they bring to the table.
“We’re less on testosterone,” Feinstein said. “We don’t have that need to always be confrontational. And I think we’re problem solvers, and I think that’s what this country needs.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, agreed.
Obviously, it hasn’t worked out that way. If the infusion of estrogen had any effect on reducing confrontation, it’s an effect that hasn’t been detectable.
On the other hand, if there’s anything in the halls of Congress that resembles bipartisan solidarity, it’s the sisterhood of the Senate.
And that’s one reason why nominating Sen. Amy Klobuchar to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court holds some promise to break the resolve of the Republican caucus to deny having a vote or hearings or even having informal meetings with any nominee that the president sends up to them.
Sen. Klobuchar has other things to recommend her, too. Prior to running for the Senate, she was the county attorney for Hennepin County, Minnesota. Basically, she was the prosecutor for Minnesota’s most populous county. She also serves on the Judiciary Committee which vets every federal judicial nominee in the country. She graduated from Yale and has a law degree from the University of Chicago where the president was once a professor.
She isn’t a constitutional scholar, but she’s as well qualified to serve on the high court as any U.S. Senator, and it doesn’t hurt that she sits on the committee that is supposed to hold hearings on Supreme Court nominees.
Klobuchar is also the epitome of Minnesota-nice, and she has no known enemies in the Senate, except possibly Ted Cruz.
It would really be painful for the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, to deny his colleague the courtesy of a hearing. But, more than that, it would truly create a conflict for Republican senators like Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Deb Fischer, Shelley Moore-Capito, Kelly Ayotte, and Joni Ernst.
If the Republicans could not hold the line on denying Klobuchar a hearing, they’d have to contend with Klobuchar’s telegenic likability. Getting rough with her would be difficult on a personal level, but it would also backfire with the American people.
And, should they reject or mistreat her, they’d have to sit there and deal with her in their day-to-days jobs with a permanent sense of shame.
More than that, though, if they stymie her, Hillary or Bernie would find her to be a very attractive and sympathetic running mate.
There are other advantages, too.
It will be relatively easy for the Republicans to stonewall a nominee that no one really knows (including Sri Srinivasan), no matter how well qualified they might be. For this reason, anyone who really aspires to be on the court would be crazy to accept the nomination right now unless they have assurances that Hillary or Bernie will renominate them if they have the opportunity to do so. Even then, why not wait to be nominated by them in the next session of Congress?
Why not nominate someone who might be able to break the Republicans’ will to obstruct? It’s not enough to just pick someone to make a point. The Republicans are willing to take the hit for opposing someone with sterling credentials, even a Republican judge.
If they won’t even meet with Klobuchar, though, they’ll probably find some serious dissent within their ranks, starting with the sisterhood and extending to the vulnerable senators and the senators who are close personal friends with her.
It’s win, win, win, as far as I am concerned.
And I think she’d be a terrific Supreme Court Justice.