Cornyn complained years ago about piñata-like treatment of GOP nominees

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  • Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said this week that President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee would be treated like a "piñata"
  • Ten years ago, Cornyn complained that Democrats were treating the GOP president's Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito like a piñata

Washington (CNN)Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said this week that President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee would be treated like a "piñata," a comment that drew sharp criticism from Democrats.

But 10 years ago, when Republicans were in the majority and George W. Bush was in the White House, Cornyn complained that Democrats were treating the GOP president's Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito like a piñata.
    "I'm happy Judge Alito survived these unwarranted attacks. I'm also sorry that his family had to be subjected to them, as well. At some point, however, we as a committee will need to come to terms with our confirmation process. The current regime treats Supreme Court nominees more like piñatas than human beings. And that's something none of us should be willing to tolerate," Cornyn says in remarks before the committee recorded by C-SPAN on February 24, 2006 and available on its website.
    The comments show how the positions of senators from both parties on judicial matters often changes depending on whether they are in the majority.
    "Republicans are acting like big, tough people threatening to destroy the reputation of a Supreme Court nominee they haven't even met yet. This is vile behavior that is beneath the dignity of this institution and the office of a senator," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada in floor speech Tuesday railing against Cornyn's comment this week.
    After Reid criticized him, Cornyn went to the floor to make clear he blames Democrats for the dysfunctional confirmation process that exists for judicial nominations.
    "I likened the nomination process and confirmation process to a piñata, which is only to say that the confirmation process around here has gotten pretty tough. But I'm not going to be preached to by the Democratic leader or by Democrats," Cornyn said. "This is a playbook that has been written by the Democratic leader and our colleagues across the aisle."
    When asked about the 2006 quote from Cornyn, an aide to the senator explained there was nothing inconsistent in his views then versus now. Both reflect the senator's concerns about the confirmation process.
    In another example of a Republican senator raising concerns about a former nominee being treated like a piñata, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, used the expression to explain Democratic treatment of Miguel Estrada during the Bush nominee's failed 2003 attempt to be confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
    "Notwithstanding all Mr. Estrada's hard work and unanimous highly qualified rating by the American Bar Association, he has been subjected to a piñata confirmation process with which he we have all become familiar," Hatch said. "The extreme left wing Washington groups to after judicial nominees like kids after a piñata. It is not specific to Mr. Estrada. They beat it and they beat it and they hope something comes out that they can crew and distort."