The partisan left obstructs Bush's judicial nominees as his term nears an end. Arlen Specter is hatching a strategy to force their hand. . . . In the last two years of Bill Clinton's Administration, when Mr. Specter was in the chairman's seat, the Republican-controlled Senate confirmed 15 appellate court nominees. Read the entire article.
One thing that troubles me about our Congress is the repetitive cycle in which our newly elected representatives ascend to our highest offices in Congress with integrity and idealism, but then succumb to the cynicism and amoral expediency of partisan politics. Yes, this is a bipartisan disease, as any observer of the corrupt earmark practice will tell you, but it seems to have much more of an effect the left.
A case in point is judges. Supreme Court judges are certainly one issue. Republicans allowed Clinton to appoint qualified, though highly liberal, justices to the Court without any issue. Justice Ruth Ginsberg is incredibly far to the left in many respects, yet she was easilly confirmed by a Republican controlled Senate.
The left, however, has hardly returned the favor. They appear determined to block any further Bush appointees, despite historic practice and dire need. This from the WSJ:
Now, more than halfway through Mr. Bush's final two years, Chairman Patrick Leahy isn't returning the Constitutional courtesy. The Democratic Senate has confirmed a mere six nominees with no plans in sight to move the remaining 11 forward. . . Democrats figure they'll retake the White House in November, and they don't mind leaving the courts short-handed for another year or two as they stall for liberal nominees.
Mr. Specter says he has recommended that Republicans "go full steam ahead" until Democrats agree to hold confirmation votes. He has in mind a series of procedural stalls that would make it next to impossible for the Senate to get anything done. These could include refusing to accept the usual unanimous consent motion to have the previous day's deliberations entered into the official record without a formal reading, a process that would take hours. So would reading the text of many bills, which can run to hundreds of pages.
The Democrats' slow judicial roll follows their misuse of the filibuster when they were in the minority during the first Bush term. It's also an abuse of the Constitution, which gives the President the responsibility of selecting judges while the Senate has an obligation to vote up or down. "I sided with Clinton on his judges who were competent," Mr. Specter points out. After the judicial wars of the Bush years, this notion seems almost quaint.
Mr. Leahy has taken a far more partisan approach to his responsibilities as chairman, holding just one confirmation hearing since September. . . Nor does Mr. Leahy appear to mind that, of the 11 appeals-court nominees awaiting Senate action, seven would fill seats deemed to be judicial emergencies. One-third of the 15 seats on the Fourth Circuit, covering Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina, are vacant. . . .
As for Mr. Specter's plan, there's no guarantee it will work, as Democrats will denounce Republican "gridlock." But it has the advantage of getting the issue of judicial confirmations back in front of the public in an election year. . . .
As we learned in the first Bush term, Senate Democrats are willing to abuse their power to thwart a President's judicial nominations. The only way to get them to move is to force them to pay a political price for their obstructionism.
. . . In the last two years of Bill Clinton's Administration, when Mr. Specter was in the chairman's seat, the Republican-controlled Senate confirmed 15 appellate court nominees.
Read the entire article.