Contentious and Counterproductive

Yesterday, Ed Whelan wrote a post on Bench Memos asking why Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy was trying “to rush through President Obama’s nomination of David F. Hamilton to the Seventh Circuit.”

Today, he followed it up with a post linking to this CQ article reporting that Sen. Arlen Specter has weighed in to voice his opposition to the timing and saying that just because Hamilton has the support of his home state senators, that doesn’t mean he is free and clear:  

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy said today that he plans to hold a confirmation hearing for President Obama’s nomination of David F. Hamilton to the 7th Circuit next week, despite GOP objections.

“We’ll do it next week,” Leahy said. He brushed aside Republican complaints that he is moving too fast on the nomination, which Obama made on March 17, saying that his acquiescence in delaying some of Obama’s Justice Department nominations was met with more Republican delaying tactics.

The committee’s top Republican, Arlen Specter, voiced his displeasure during a committee hearing this morning. Specter also made it clear that when it comes to Obama’s judicial nominations, support from Republican home state senators, by itself, won’t be enough to eliminate GOP opposition.

Hamilton, currently an Indiana federal district judge, is backed by Indiana Republican Sen. Richard G. Lugar. But social conservatives have criticized Hamilton as an ideological activist.

Specter said Lugar’s endorsement is “not sufficient. There’s a little thing called the Constitution and it calls for confirmation by the Senate,” Specter added, “Dick Lugar doesn’t confirm, the Senate does.”

Whelan also reports that Specter sent a letter to Leahy asking him to delay the hearing until after the upcoming recess and added a handwritten note at the bottom reading:

If you insist on this schedule [i.e., a pre-recess hearing] for Hamilton, you will [be] starting on the first Pres Obama nomination in a very contentious manner which will provoke opposition [and] prove counterproductive.  (Emphasis in original.)

Interesting that it is Leahy who is acting in a “very contentious manner” regarding judicial nominations considering that it was Specter and all of his Republican colleagues who sent President Obama a letter before he had even made his first nomination threatening to filibuster any and all of his nominations if they were “not consulted on, and approve of, a nominee from” their respective states.

Specter apparently doesn’t see the irony here, but the threat to preemptively filibuster all of President Obama’s judicial nominees before he had even made any is itself rather contentious and counterproductive behavior.