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Friday, November 3, 2006

Grasping at Straws

Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) has proven the point that Republicans are more than willing to play politics with judges, especially on the eve of a critical election. In an article mired in buzzwords and inaccuracies, Senator Dole shamelessly distorts the records of both parties on judicial nominations in order to rile up the conservative base. Here are some examples:

  • "Reshaping the judiciary is the last refuge of liberals, their last hope to inflict their agenda on the American people." In fact, the Clinton administration consistently consulted across the aisle to find fair-minded jurists with bipartisan support. Of course, this didn't stop some Senate Republicans from blocking more than 60 of President Clinton's nominees. Furthermore, ultra-conservatives have aggressively used judicial nominations to advance their radical agenda and extreme views. Check out AFJ's film, Quiet Revolution, which exposes the hard right's game plan for foisting their agenda on the American public.
  • "[M]any Democrats believe that the proper role of a judge is to craft solutions to society’s perceived ills by legislating from the bench." But it's folks on the right who are urging courts to take matters out of the hands of elected legislators -- by upending decades of precedent in order to limit the authority of Congress to pass laws protecting workers, consumers, and public health. Check out this column on Slate.com for more discussion of the right's hypocrisy.
  • "Leftist-dominated courts are engaged in an effort to remove all references to God from the public arena." Leftist-dominated? 10 of the 13 circuits are majority-Republican appointed. Meanwhile, judges of all political persuasions struggle with issues of where to draw the line on church-state issues. But folks on the far right, like Justice Thomas, have endorsed an interpretation of the Establishment Clause which would allow the states to establish official religions. They're the real radicals here.

We agree with Senator Dole that the judiciary is important--and that it is being reshaped--but we heartily disagree about who is doing the reshaping. We think we can safely chalk up Senator Dole's hypocritical and unsubstantiated accusations of a liberal agenda to naked partisanship: consider her blatantly political support of controversial Fourth Circuit nominee Terrence Boyle. It looks like Senator Dole has joined Senator Cornyn (R-TX) (check out our post on his equally laughable article on judges here), and a few other Republican senators in selling out their credibility to score a few points with the party base.

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