As part of our big, new redesign of the Alliance for Justice website, the Justice Watch blog has moved. To be sure you're getting all the latest news about the fight for a fairer America, visit us at www.afj.org/blog

Monday, May 23, 2011

Violating a Principle on Judicial Nominations

When Senator Lamar Alexander said, "I will not vote to deny a vote to a Democratic president's judicial nominee just because the nominee may have views more liberal than mine," it was taken as a statement of principle, and a reflection of the belief that the Senate should hold a final yes-or-no vote on every one of a president's judicial nominees.

But after Senator Alexander -- and every Republican except Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- voted against a motion to break a filibuster and hold a yes-or-no vote on Liu's nomination, it's clear that Alexander's statement of principle leaves some room for interpretation. (Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah voted "present" in the roll call, which he has painted as a principled stand. Nonetheless, a vote to end a filibuster requires 60 "yes" votes to break, so a "no" vote is functionally the same as no vote at all.)

The New York Times puts forth the idea that Alexander's vote wasn't about Liu being "more liberal" than the senator from Tennessee:
But other Republicans were more forthcoming about the real reason for the blockade: Mr. Liu dared to criticize Justice Samuel Alito Jr. as harshly conservative before he was confirmed to the Supreme Court. The filibuster apparently was payback, and the Republican eagerness for revenge has broken faith and a clear understanding on the Senate floor. That will make it harder to fill benches during this administration and many more to come.
Click here to read the Times editorial, and click here to learn more about Goodwin Liu.

Senator Alexander wasn't alone, of course. Other Republican senators have pledged to not filibuster judicial nominees, yet they stood together and Thursday and did exactly that. The result is that a federal judgeship, classified as a "judicial emergency" remains vacant, the caseload on the Ninth Circuit remains dangerously high, and a qualified, intelligent nominee was rejected by the Senate on the flimsiest of excuses.


Brian said...

I am absolutely mystified why Obama WILL NOT use "recess appointments" to put good persons on the Bench?? Mad King George used such appointments to put HIS choices in such positions.

Os there something I'm missing??

Elaine said...

I agree with Brian.