It appears as if the Senate Republicans and their right-wing allies are gearing up for a battle over judges, primarily over the nomination of Leslie Southwick to a seat on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
A few weeks ago, Sen. Arlen Specter met with representatives of more than a dozen right-wing organizations -Including Concerned Women of America, the Family Research Council, and the Judicial Confirmation Network – to complain that he was “fed up” with the Democrats’ supposed failure to confirm enough judges and to urge these groups to get involved in pressing for more confirmations.
And that is just what they have done.
Today, the Committee for Justice and nearly 60 other right-wing groups released a letter [PDF] they sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, blasting Democrats for making it “it impossible for the Senate to fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent in good faith.”
The letter claims that failure to confirm Bush’s judges is at least partially responsible for Congress’ low approval rating and warns that the issue will play a role in upcoming elections.
It then proceeds to make a series of strikingly hypocritical claims:
The American people are equally unsympathetic to the claim that certain nominees cannot get a hearing because of the Judiciary Committee’s arcane “blue slip” policy. That policy is rightfully perceived as serving senators rather than the public. Because the policy exists entirely at the discretion of the committee chairman, blame for the resulting delays cannot credibly be laid outside the committee.
President Bush fulfilled his constitutional duty by nominating the outstanding men and women who await action in the Judiciary Committee. We respectfully request that you allow the Senate to fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent, by ensuring that each and every judicial nominee is given a hearing and is reported out of committee for consideration by the full Senate in a timely manner. If you cannot support a particular nominee, vote him or her out of committee without a positive recommendation, or vote against confirmation. But please do not deny the nominee a fair up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. In other words, we ask only that you do your job by putting statesmanship above politics and special interests.
Of course, back when President Clinton was in office, the “blue slip” policy was used routinely by Republicans to block his nominees but was unilaterally changed when Republicans took control of the Senate under President Bush in order to prevent Democrats from doing the same to Bush. Now that Democrats are back in control of the Senate, these groups seem to think that the “blue slip” policy switch orchestrated by Sen. Orrin Hatch should still be in place in order to benefit President Bush’s nominees.
As for the claim that Democrats must ensure that “each and every judicial nominee is given a hearing and is reported out of committee” … well, let’s just say that is not how Republicans operated under President Clinton either.
Then, just for good measure, Concerned Women for America, despite having signed on to the above-mentioned letter, issued its own press release defending Southwick by accusing those who oppose his confirmation of “spitting on the reputation” of Iraqi War vets.
“Judge Southwick is a brave, considerate, intelligent American hero — just the type of person that we need on the federal bench,” stated Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America. “Yet liberal special interest groups have unfairly smeared a good man — a war veteran — for doing his constitutional duty of upholding the law and serving in the war.
“Some Democrat senators have followed their lead, in effect spitting on the reputation of this honorable judge and Iraq war veteran. Is this what other Iraq War veterans will face when they return home? Will their sacrifice, courage and honor be besmirched by people who put their interests above the welfare of our country?”
Normally when it comes to judges, the Right just tends to accuse its opponents of being sexist, racist, or otherwise bigoted – so accusations that they are also hostile to our troops is a new, though not surprising, development.