It is no secret that, when it comes to the issue of judicial nominees, the Right just likes to fight. And one of the way the GOP and the Right try to gin up their base in an election year is to make judges an issue, and make unfounded accusations of bigotry against any opponents. They’re at it once again:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday he has not ruled out the option of shutting down the chamber to put fresh pressure on Democrats to confirm President Bush’s stalled judicial nominees.
His statement came after Republicans brought a Judiciary Committee meeting to a near-standstill to vent their frustrations with what they said was Democratic foot-dragging to confirm 10 pending nominees to federal appeals courts. They complained that there have been no committee hearings on nominees since last September, and say that at least nine more nominees need to be confirmed by the end of Bush’s term in order to match the 15 judges the Republican-controlled Senate approved in the final two years of the Clinton administration.
Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, told reporters last month that one of the options to force Democratic action is “shutting down the Senate.” He reiterated that threat this week in an interview with the Wall Street Journal editorial board.
In an interview with The Hill on Thursday, Specter said it was “a possibility” that the GOP would object to motions that allow routine business to proceed on the floor, a move that would stifle Senate action and effectively bring the chamber to a halt.
And once again, the Right is deploying its complementary tactic of ignoring the concerns raised about a controversial nominees’ record or judicial philosophy in favor of simply accusing Democrats of opposing the nominee out of bigotry. As we’ve noted before:
The Right sees some nefarious ulterior motive at work – and that is how they manage to convince themselves that opposition to [Leslie] Southwick stems not from concerns about his record but from some sort of deep-seeded hatred of Southern white males … the same way they said opposition to Miguel Estrada was really due to anti-Latino prejudice … and opposition to Priscilla Owen was the result of flagrant anti-woman bias … and opposition to William Pryor was actually due to anti-Catholic bigotry … and opposition to Janice Rogers Brown was in actuality rooted in racism.
And guess what? Here they go again … this time with a bit of a twist, as Fidelis circularly accuses Sen. Pat Leahy , who is himself Catholic, of accusing Robert Conrad, who is likewise Catholic, of making anti-Catholic statements:
In the latest attack on 4th Circuit nominee Judge Robert Conrad, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), accused Conrad of making anti-Catholic comments in a letter submitted to a Catholic periodical over nine years ago. Leahy’s accusation comes as Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have come under increased pressure to act on President Bush’s judicial nominations … Anti-Catholic bigotry in America is real, and we welcome efforts to confront it where it truly exists. But in the case of Judge Conrad, there is nothing that even remotely resembles anti-Catholicism.
While that complaint is a bit confusing and probably unlikely to generate any sort of outrage, Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice decided to take a different track and simply accuse Senate Democrats of being anti-Semitic for opposing the nomination of Peter Keisler:
Is the fact that Keisler is Jewish similarly contributing to his obstruction by Democrats? There is no way to know. But it’s worth noting that, of the nine appeals court nominees currently being obstructed, three are Jewish.
Of course, it is “worth noting” that three of the nominees are Jewish only if you are attempting to insinuate that opposition to their nominations is rooted in anti-Semitism – despite admitting that you have “no way to know” and absolutely no evidence that that is actually the case.