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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Post Accuses Senators of “Playing Games” on Judges

Lately it seems that this blog has been laden with entries regarding the status of President Bush’s pending judicial nominees. But conservative senators, media outlets and editorial boards have been pushing the issue hard this month – no doubt because we find ourselves in an election year – and as a result, we find ourselves obliged to set the record straight.

Today, another editorial came out calling on the Senate to “stop playing games with judicial nominees.” The Washington Post accused senators of not following through on their “duty to evaluate those who have been nominated.” Apparently the Post gives quite a bit of deference to Republican talking points, because today’s piece sounded as if it had come straight from Sen. Arlen Specter’s playbook.

We find it curious that of all the pending nominees under Senate consideration, the Post chose to highlight only two of the nominees – ignoring highly controversial nominees with troubling records like Steven Matthews and Robert Conrad altogether. The Post also glossed over issues surrounding the nominations of both Mr. Rosenstein and Mr. Keisler – including the fact that the White House has continued to stonewall the Senate over documents that would shed light on Mr. Keisler's record and judicial philosophy. If the Post is going to call on the Senate to evaluate nominees, it should also call on the White House and nominees to provide the Senate with essential materials critical to that evaluation. For more on these nominees, please see our background information.

Just because the Senate is taking its advice and consent role seriously does not mean that it is playing politics. For proof, just look at how smoothly the nomination of G. Steven Agee (also from the Fourth Circuit) is proceeding. Agee was on a bipartisan list of suggested candidates provided to President Bush by both Virginia senators, and his nomination is expected to proceed without delay. Maybe President Bush and his allies should take the hint and put forward some consensus nominees for the remaining circuit court seats instead of attempting to start yet another election year fight over judges.

The truth is, President Bush has consistently put forward controversial nominees for lifetime appointments to the federal bench, and his allies in the Senate are attempting to make a last-ditch effort to push them through before his term expires. This however, would truly be unfair to the “plaintiffs, defendants, crime victims and businesses relying on the courts to…dispense justice,” for which the Washington Post editorial board seems so concerned. Because in truth, it is the American people who are being hurt as their rights are consistently being chipped away by decisions coming down from a judiciary with an increasingly conservative majority.

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