Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Judge Wars: The Attack of the Intellectual Clones

The Washington Post editorial page yesterday concluded that the Leahy judiciary committee and the Hatch judiciary committee operated similarly in an editorial entitled "War Over Judges." They point to the fact that 100 judges were confirmed by these committees respectively. Of course, they conveniently ignore the fact that Leahy’s judiciary committee voted on party lines against two candidates for the circuit court based upon trumped up accusations of ideological unfitness.

Given the numeric similarities, the Post concludes that the problem facing judicial confirmation process is systemic. The good news is that they recommend adopting something like Bush’s proposal to streamline judicial nominations. But then they take a play from E.J. Dionne, and the New York Times, and Ralph Neas (thus, the intellectual clone reference), and say that Bush needs to show "some flexibility on nominations to key courts." What, you mean like the flexibility that Clinton demonstrated with liberal Justices Ginsburg and Breyer? The Post is correct in noting that the system has not been operating properly, but the solution is not to force the President to abdicate his responsibility in judicial selection. Quite frankly, no one believes that the groups wailing for consensus judges would be doing so if the President were a Republican and the Congress were Democratic. That said, the closely divided nature of the Senate has caused the president to choose judges who are undeniably qualified and around whom reasonable consensus may be built. Perhaps it is time that the opposition groups realized this, and made some concessions of their own.

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