Professor Michael McConnell and Dennis Shedd are scheduled for markup before the Judiciary Commmittee today concerning their nominations respectively to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and may well be voted out of committee today. While advocacy groups continue to oppose Bush nominees--I have received action alerts from both Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women opposing their confirmation--the Democrats are going to have a hard time blocking these qualified lawyers. McConnell in particular comes to the Judiciary Committee with the backing of liberal law professors Cass Sunstein and Larry Tribe. He previously served as law clerk to two of the most liberal judges of the last century: Judge Skelly Wright and Justice Brennan. With this kind of bi-partisan experience and support, the Democrats only hope for success was to deny him a vote, which is what they did until the election. But the obstruction now has to end with the change in power. There are those, including the New York Times, which have called for Senators to fillibuster. This is easier said than done, particularly when the candidates are as well-qualified as the current round of nominees. With any luck, today’s hearings will signal a significant shift from the Leahy/Schumer/Neas policy of obstruction which has dominated the Judiciary Committee for the past year.
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