In the latest issue of the Weekly Standard, columnist Fred Barnes observed that nothing fires up the conservative base for an election like knock-down, drag-out fights over controversial, ideologically-charged judicial nominations. So what does he urge to buck up the Republicans' flagging hopes for this November's mid-terms? You got it: milking the latest nominations controversies for all they’re worth. “There are already enough nominees to the federal appeals courts alone to have confirmation fights for the rest of the year. Let's have them,” counsels Barnes.
This echoes a similar call to arms by some conservative Republican senators earlier this year. According to Senator John Thune (R-SD), “[a] good fight on judges does nothing but energize our base…. Right now our folks are feeling a little flat.” Also spoiling for a nominations fight, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) added that “[f]rom a political standpoint, when we talk about judges, we win.” (Yes, this is the same Senator Cornyn who, just a few months later, blamed Democrats for putting the federal judiciary on "the dangerous road toward politicization.” Oh, and on the senator's "with judges we win" assertion, nothing empirical has ever supported it.)
Republican senators may well be taking Barnes' (and Thune's and Cornyn's) advice. According to the September edition of the American Spectator, they are preparing to bring several contentious nominations “to a head after Labor Day recess.”
We'd like to think that, especially in these troubled times, the Republicans might pause for a rare moment of principled reflection and spare the nation's courts from this kind of demagoguery. But given how they have repeatedly used judicial nominations as political footballs, we're not holding our breath.