Congress reconvenes this week for a marathon three week session before everyone returns home for a final election push. The Wall Street Journal editorial board wasted no time in throwing renewed allegations of obstruction at Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In an op-ed today, the Journal accused the committee of checking out months ago and unfairly stalling the president’s circuit court nominees. Of course, those who follow nomination battles closely know that their rhetoric is one-sided.
Considering that it is September in an election year, the likelihood that any nominee will be confirmed is slim, particularly given the controversial nature of many of the president's remaining appeals court nominees. Historically, judicial appointments are put on hold until the next president has been determined – the Republican-controlled Senate also took a break from confirming circuit level judges during the 2004 presidential election, not confirming any after June of that year.
Of course, the Journal would prefer to see this tradition tossed aside for the sake of “fairness.” Pulling straight from Republican talking-points, the editorial claims that Democrats should push to match the number of circuit court nominees confirmed in President Clinton’s final year. It doesn’t mention however, that the lower number of confirmed judges this year might have something to do with the fact that judicial vacancy rates are at a historic low.
The Journal also complains that Republicans have sacrificed too much in their attempts to push through their nominees. It chastises the big bad Democrats for deeming merely “conservative” nominees as “controversial,” suggesting that E. Duncan Getchell was held up because of his ideology -- in truth it was because the president flouted consultation with the Senate, an action decried even by Virginia Republican Senator John Warner.
Oh, and the latest example of liberal treachery? Efforts by yours truly, Alliance for Justice, to “blackball” third circuit nominee Gene Pratter. If raising concerns about a nominee’s record on employment discrimination is blackballing, we’re guilty as charged.