The Associated Press reported yesterday that despite Senator Brownback’s (R-Kan.) whining, Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) is refusing to schedule a second hearing on the nomination of Judge Janet T. Neff to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan (see our previous posts here and here). Brownback has placed a hold on Neff’s nomination, which is pending before the full Senate, because Judge Neff attended the “entirely private” commitment ceremony of a lesbian couple in Massachusetts four years ago.
Specter says that he does not want to set a precedent that encourages bringing a nominee who has already been approved by the committee back for a second hearing. Brownback’s staff responded by conceding Specter’s “concern about what kind of precedent that sets.” Then why won’t he remove the hold?
Clearly Brownback’s accusations are ridiculous, his logic laughable, and his actions unprecedented. But even worse, his obstructionism is holding up not one but three confirmations. Judge Neff’s nomination was part of a compromise between the Bush administration and the two Michigan Senators, who had been previously been locked out of their traditional role in the advice and consent process. So Senators Stabenow and Levin are vowing to hold up the confirmations of the other two Michigan nominees involved in the compromise until Brownback releases his chokehold on Neff.
Singlehandedly unraveling a bipartisan compromise with baseless allegations? Nice work, Senator Brownback.