Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) conceded that Democrats should have handled the nominations of past Republican nominees to the Supreme Court better.

In remarks on the floor of the Senate Wednesday, Durbin claimed that Republicans were “unfair” in framing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s record on crime during her confirmation hearings, but admitted that the procedure for Republican nominees “should have been handled better.”

“This notion, and it pains me to even bring it before the floor, but I know it’s going to come up in the next day or two, that she is soft on crime; as I mentioned, the law enforcement groups would not be endorsing her if they believed she was soft on crime,” Durbin said. “And the notion that she’s somehow, in the words of one Republican senator, quote, ‘her sentencing endangers children.’ It’s painful, because he said as much in front of her family, and I thought about that, how painful that must have been for her to hear those words. They’re not true. And to take one or two situations, each of them unique in their factual circumstances, and to generalize in terms of her position on an issue of that gravity is fundamentally unfair.”

Durbin then admitted that Democrats had also been unfair in previous situations. “But we’ve done it, too, on the Democratic side, and I’m going to be first to admit, as I look back in history, there are things that should have been handled better when Republican nominees were before us.” Durbin also conceded that “the majority of Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by the ranking member, Chuck Grassley, I believe were respectful and dealt with the judge in a fair manner, asked tough questions as they were expected to, but did not cross the line into personal attack. There were three or four who broke that rule, as far as I was concerned, but the vast majority of Republican senators were factual, were fair, and were basing their questions on sound legal questions before any Supreme Court nominee’s consideration.”

But Durbin’s comments drew no sympathy from conservatives. A number of conservative figures responded to clips of Durbin’s remarks on Twitter, pointing out some of the worst examples of Democrats being unfair to Republican nominees. Notable responses included:

  • Comfortably Smug, conservative influencer: “Accusing a man of running a gang rape ring in front of his family because you listened to Michael Avenatti… Yeah you could have ‘handled that better[,]’ Dick.”
  • Abigail Marone, press secretary for Senator Josh Hawley: “It’s ‘fundamentally unfair’ to ask a judicial nominee about her record on the bench?? Okayyyyy sure.”
  • Matt Whitlock, Republican communicator: “@DickDurbin blocking Estrada specifically because of his race and joining Avenatti to call Kavanaugh an actual gang rapist does not compare to the fair questions Ketanji Brown Jackson refused to answer about her actual record and decisions.”
  • Kurt Schlichter, Townhall senior columnist: “When they have paid for it, then we can talk about returning to the old rules.”
  • Tim Graham, NewsBusters executive editor: “This is a small admission of imperfection. But please ELABORATE. Who was mishandled?”

Multiple Republican senators also addressed Democrats’ poor behavior in Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearings. Texas Senator Ted Cruz highlighted Democrats’ vicious treatment of Justice Clarence Thomas in his opening statement at Jackson’s hearings in March. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham invoked the memory of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) religious questions at the hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, asking Jackson if she could “fairly judge a Catholic,” and promised that her confirmation would not be a “circus” like the Kavanaugh hearings.

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