There is nothing the Right loves more than to complain about the issue of judicial nominations. Back when President Clinton was making nominations, they complained that the Senate was confirming too many and ever since President Bush took office, they’ve been complaining that the Senate isn’t confirming enough.
On Wednesday, Sen. Patrick Leahy delivered a speech setting out his agenda as incoming chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in which he touched on the issue of judicial nominations:
For too long, this White House has used judicial nominations for partisan political purposes and refused to work with us on consensus nominees. The American people want the Senate to be more than a rubber stamp. They want the Senate to do its job by carefully evaluating nominees for lifetime judgeships — judgeships that will continue long after this President leaves office and will affect the rights of today’s Americans and those of their children and grandchildren.
The process starts with the President. In the choices he makes, he can unite the Senate and the American people, or he can divide us. If he works with us to send consensus nominees instead of picking political fights, we can make good progress filling vacancies in these important lifetime appointments. One tangible step we should consider is wider use of bipartisan judicial nominating commissions in screening judicial candidates.
Not surprisingly, the Right jumped on the opportunity to complain about the issue once again, with Fidelis, Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, and the Committee for Justice all weighing in to blast Sen. Leahy and the Democrats for their supposed “damaging” of the confirmation process.
The Judicial Confirmation Network also issued a statement, warning:
Voters in key battleground states in 2008 will be watching these liberal Democrats, to see if they really are fair and how they treat President Bush’s nominees to the bench who respect democracy and leave political questions to the American people to decide.
It is funny that the JCN would warn that “voters will be watching” because, back in October, it and several of the other groups mentioned above were desperately trying to get voters to pay attention to this issue by unveiling a “Fair Judiciary Oath” that was circulated to candidates running for the Senate. By signing, candidates pledged to “work to see that everyone duly nominated to serve on the federal judiciary gets a fair confirmation process.”
The JCN and the others obviously thought that this oath would provide a way to highlight Democratic “obstruction” during the mid-term elections and mobilize right-wing voters in order to help the GOP retain control of the Senate.
But it didn’t turn out that way, because only four candidates agreed to sign the oath: George Allen (VA), Rich Santorum (PA), Jim Talent (MO), and Michael Bouchard (MI).
And each one lost their race.