The No-Credibility Senate
The obstruction of President Bush's judicial nominees continues in the U.S. Senate. Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) recognized back in April that the Democratic leadership needed "to make more progress on" circuit court nominations when he promised to confirm three circuit court nominees by the Memorial Day recess. But just like Memorial Day, the fluffy promises of Sen. Reid and the Democratic leadership have come and gone. Only one nominee was confirmed before the Senate recess.
That makes eight circuit court nominees confirmed by this Congress in the last two years, compared to 15 of President Clinton's during his final two years in office. And as if this weren't bad enough, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) has been signaling that the window for acting on judicial nominees this year is beginning to close. What a joke.
Sen. Leahy stands at the door impeding nominees from getting through and now somehow laments that "the calendar" will not allow for more nominees to move along. Talk about political manipulation.
The Senate has confirmed two judicial nominees this year. Two! That's an embarrassing record by any standard and it shows us why this Congress has such a low approval rating. The people say we want well-qualified nominees confirmed, but the Senate keeps playing politics with the nominees' lives, following the commands of special interest groups, making deals, and ignoring the needs of its constituents.
But this abysmal record reflects poorly on Democrats and Republicans alike. All Senators should be doing everything in their power to move President Bush's judicial nominees along. They cannot stand idly by while a few Senators hold nominees hostage. There is a time for everything under the sun, and as it relates to judicial nominations, it is time to fight for justice and fairness.
We are not talking about new nominees here; some nominations go as far back as two years. Peter Keisler, for example, was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on June 29, 2006. Mr. Keisler has a distinguished record as a practicing attorney, including arguing before the Supreme Court, and an impressive career at the Department of Justice (DOJ), where he was responsible for the DOJ's largest litigating division.
But apparently that is the problem with him. The Democrats think he might be so good that he might be "Supreme Court material," and they would never want such a good nominee confirmed.
Similarly absurd "logic" has been used against Rod Rosenstein, nominated on November 15, 2007, to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. "Rod Rosenstein is doing a good job as the U.S. attorney in Maryland, and that's where we need him. He plays a vital role in fighting crime and protecting our communities in Maryland," said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Maryland) in a statement. Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Maryland) concurred, "I regret that the White House did not listen to our recommendations to keep Rod Rosenstein as U.S. attorney."
In other words, Rod Rosenstein is too good to be a federal judge and because of that they will obstruct his nomination so that he doesn't even get a vote. Does anyone think this is fair? Imagine your boss blocking your promotion because you are too good where you are right now.
But it is hard to think of a greater example of injustice than the nomination of Robert Conrad to the Fourth Circuit. Sen. Leahy accused Judge Conrad of making anti-Catholic remarks, completely ignoring the fact that Judge Conrad is Catholic, and didn't even give the nominee a hearing where he could respond to such a heinous accusation.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R- Oklahoma) responded to Sen. Leahy's attack at the time by saying, "If Sen. Leahy has concerns about Judge Conrad's qualifications, he should present those in the context of a confirmation hearing, where the nominee will have an opportunity to respond." Needless to say, the hearing never happened.
Right now, the Senate has no credibility when it comes to judicial nominations. The American people have heard all the rhetoric and empty promises and are tired of the political maneuvering. We want action. Fairness and justice demand it.
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