Brownback Wants McCarthyesque Hearings for Bush’s Judicial Nominee

Sen. Sam Brownback is not giving up his fight against the nomination of Janet Neff and is now seeking to bring her before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a second hearing so that he can get her to provide the “facts” about her attendance at a lesbian commitment ceremony in 2002:

“I am not opposed to her getting a vote,” Brownback said before a lunch with potential donors and supporters in Davenport. “I would like her to come back through committee so she can testify what took place, factually … her legal views on same-sex marriage and her ability and willingness to be impartial.” 

Brownback’s McCarthyesque desire to uncover every bit of information regarding Neff’s attendance at this ceremony is staggering.  What does he expect her to provide?  A guest list?  A copy of the gift registry?  

Neff explained her attendance at the ceremony, saying that one of the women was a close family friend and that “it was no different than being asked by my own daughters to be part of an important event in their lives.” But that did not satisfied Brownback, who demanded that she recuse herself from any cases involving the issue of same-sex unions as a condition of receiving a confirmation vote.  Earlier this week, Brownback appeared to back down from that position after realizing that his demand “was so unusual as to be possibly unprecedented” – though he is still defending his actions:

“If we don’t testify on her views on same-sex marriage legally, then the only way I can see fit to do this is to have her recuse herself from a class of cases,” Brownback said. “Then others stepped in and said ‘you can’t do that.’ Well, that’s the only option I had at that late hour.”

President Bush nominated Janet Neff back in June and she received a Committee hearing in September – a hearing that was, coincidentally enough, chaired by Brownback himself:

Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin said Tuesday they support three nominees submitted by President Bush to the U.S. District Court for Michigan’s Western District.

The three nominees – Grand Rapids lawyer Robert Jonker, Berrien County Circuit Judge Paul Maloney and Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Janet Neff – told the Senate Judiciary Committee that they would respect the principles of judicial restraint if confirmed.

Stabenow, introducing the appointees, said they bring “distinguished legal careers to the federal bench” and she hoped their nominations would reach the full Senate quickly.

“Senator Levin and I are bringing our full support, enthusiastic support, for the nominees,” Stabenow told Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who led the hearing.

If Brownback was so concerned about Neff’s “willingness to be impartial,” perhaps he should have asked her about it when he chaired her confirmation hearing three months ago.