The Right’s Short Memory

As was to be expected, the Right is none-too-pleased about the announcement that a few controversial judicial nominees have asked to have their nominations withdrawn now that the Democrats have taken control of the Senate.

Pat Robertson lamented the news, but used it as an opportunity to urge President Bush to push ahead with the nomination of ideologues and provoke a confrontation in order to remind the Democrats and “the American people … what happened to Sen. Daschle in South Dakota.”  [Watch the video: Broadband or Dial-Up.]  

Bruce Hausknecht, a judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action, likewise weighed in, saying “it’s a shame that the nominations of these fine men languished for years without good reason” and complaining that “the [Senate Judiciary] committee became a black hole in 2001 and 2002 for court of appeals nominees under Leahy’s last tenure as chairman, so at this point I remain deeply skeptical concerning the fate of the president’s future appeals court nominees.” 

For someone who holds the position of “judicial analyst,” Hausknecht sure doesn’t seem to know much about the history of judicial nominations.  

In the 107th Congress, when Democrats controlled the Senate, 17 appellate court nominees were confirmed.  In the 108th and 109th, when Republicans controlled the Senate, 18 and 16 were confirmed respectively.  

When Bill Clinton was president and the Democrats controlled the Senate during the 103rd Congress, 19 of his appellate court nominees were confirmed.  During the next three Congresses under Republican control, 11, 20, and 15 were confirmed respectively.  

Thus, the supposed “black hole” for President Bush’s appellate court nominees under Leahy was nothing of the sort and actually resulted in more confirmations than in three of the five most recent Congresses in which Republicans controlled the Senate.    

In addition to ignoring these statistics, nobody on the Right ever seems to mention the nearly 50+ Clinton administration nominees who never received a Committee hearing or a floor vote, thanks largely to the Republicans. 

And while they are outraged by the so-called “obstruction” that has lead a handful of Bush’s nominees to ask that their nominations be withdrawn, no one on the Right appears to have much regret about the various Clinton administration nominees who withdrew their nominations because of Republican opposition or lengthy delays:

Charles Stack – “Under sharp criticism from Senator Bob Dole, a Miami trial lawyer who was President Clinton’s nominee for a Federal appeals court has removed himself from consideration … Mr. Dole, the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, urged Mr. Clinton last month to withdraw the nomination of the lawyer, Charles Stack.”

Michael D. Schattman – “Stymied by Sen. Phil Gramm’s implacable opposition, Fort Worth lawyer Michael Schattman has asked President Clinton to withdraw his name from consideration for appointment to the federal bench in the Northern District of Texas.”

John Bingler – “John Bingler, a lawyer who was nominated for a federal judgeship in July, asked President Clinton yesterday to withdraw his name. ‘I have concluded that because of the continuing opposition to my nomination by (Pennsylvania Republican) Sen. Rick Santorum, my nomination will not be confirmed by the United States Senate,’ he said in a prepared statement.”

John Snodgrass – “President Clinton’s nominee for a federal judgeship in north Alabama withdrew Friday, forcing a new search to fill the judicial post that’s already been vacant for more than three years. John David Snodgrass, a former chief judge of the Circuit Court in Madison County, said in a letter to Clinton that his plans have changed and he wants his nomination withdrawn … Sen. Howell Heflin, D-Ala., said Snodgrass told him Thursday night he had become frustrated with the long delay in the Senate confirmation process and wanted to pursue other plans.”

Leland Shurin – “Kansas City lawyer Leland M. Shurin, nominated by President Clinton less than four months ago to be a federal district judge, withdrew his name Monday from consideration.  Shurin, 52, said it had been more than two years since the local congressional delegation submitted his name to the White House, and no one could assure him he ever would be confirmed to the bench. ‘It’s time for me to get on with my life,’ Shurin said.”

Lynne R. Lasry – “Two years ago, after waiting two years for her confirmation, Lynne R. Lasry, a well-regarded San Diego lawyer nominated by President Clinton to a San Diego federal bench vacancy, finally withdrew her name, complaining of ‘the political climate in Washington.’”

Bruce Greer – “Miami attorney Bruce Greer withdrew his nomination for federal district judge on Thursday, 2 1/2 years after a bipartisan committee recommended him. ‘For many months I have been promised a public hearing before the Republican controlled Senate Judiciary Committee,’ Greer wrote to President Clinton. However, as each potential hearing date approached, the Committee sought `further information’ on issues already exhaustively investigated and cleared by the FBI and the Justice Department.’”

Frederica Massiah-Jackson – “In a quavering but composed voice, Frederica Massiah-Jackson withdrew Monday from her long fight to sit as the first black woman on the federal bench in Philadelphia. ‘It is with great regret and personal sadness that I … withdraw my nomination as a judge to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania,’ Ms. Massiah-Jackson said, reading from her letter to President Clinton at a news conference. ‘I have been a fighter … all my life, but allowing still more and more selective, one-sided and unsubstantiated charges to go unanswered in this politicized environment is not acceptable to me after my long journey.’ Prosecutors and Republicans in the U.S. Senate were strongly opposed to her nomination, finding that she was ‘soft on crime’ when she heard criminal cases as a Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge.”

Gail S. Tusan – A Fulton County Superior Court judge nominated to the federal bench has withdrawn from consideration for the position, even though it would have made her the first black woman ever picked for a federal judgeship in the state.  In a statement released Friday, Gail S. Tusan said she anticipated a prolonged confirmation process that would interfere with her reelection campaign to her current post.  ‘Today’s political acrimony has so perverted the confirmation process that it no longer resembles the process outlined in my eighth-grade son’s civics book,’ Tusan said. ‘Constructive criticism necessarily is shared with a federal nominee and as a result of my time under the microscopic eye of the legal community, I am committed to striving to be an even better judge.’”

Before Republicans and the Right start complaining about how “unfairly” President Bush’s judicial nominees have been treated, they might want to reexamine their own record regarding President Clinton’s nominees.