Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Not Even a Park Bench

The New York Times today reports that Bush is making a campaign issue of the delays and obstruction committed by Democratic Senators who oppose his judicial nominees. As I have said on this page before, this is appropriate: Senators should be held accountable for their votes against candidates or their failure to act. The Times of course failed to mention the drastic understaffing in the courts--the Sixth Circuit for example has a vacancy rate of approximately 50%--an error of omission they would have never committed during the Clinton years. The Times did, however, offer a reason that the Democrats have been so successful in blocking judges:

they were enacting a strategy discussed at a party retreat in April 2001, where the senators were exhorted by their leaders and others to be willing to oppose nominees on ideological grounds and accept any political fallout.

The "others" doing the exhorting at this now infamous retreat included Harvard’s Laurence Tribe and Chicago’s Cass Sunstein, both of whom are well-reputed to covet a Supreme Court seat of their own. Yet by making ideology a fair consideration, they have perfected the argument themselves: they are too far outside the mainstream to deserve even passing consideration. So oddly enough, by conspiring against qualified nominees, these two judicial aspirants have assured that the only way they will ever see the world from behind a bench is with a visitor’s pass.

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