A Very Lame Democrat Defense of Obstructionism on Judicial Appointments; And An Acknowledgement of - Gasp! - Politics in Process
A commenter on my post below named Tendentious Gastropod states:
I don't know why you're so prickly over judicial nominations.
FACT: George Bush has a better record of having his judicial nominees approved than any President in the past twenty-five years. Only ten of 215 nominations have been turned down.
I am so glad this has been brought up. Tendentious has certainly accepted the Democrat talking points. I accidentally deleted my response to Tendentious, so let's take a look at his analysis here.
All 10 of the nominations that the Democrats have blocked are Court of Appeals judges. The Democrats have been very accommodating in confirming district court judges, who sit in trial courts, not appellate courts. That is not surprising; it's no big deal for the opposition party to approve trial court judges.
No, it is over nominations to the United States Courts of Appeals that the Democrats have chosen to fight. Unlike district court decisions, Court of Appeals decisions actually set judicial precedents (often called "making law"). Perhaps more important, talented Court of Appeals judges are one step away from the Supreme Court and can use their appellate seats to qualify themselves for appointment to the Supreme Court.
That's what the Democrats want to prevent-- someone like Miguel Estrada getting appointed to the Big One. Estrada is a very talented lawyer with a superb legal education and pedigree; he's a mainstream conservative thinker, not an extremist, and (horrors!) he is Hispanic. It's just not good politics for the Democrats to allow Bush to groom that kind of bright young conservative for a Supreme Court nomination-- especially when the potential nominee would help Bush cut into one of the ethnic constituencies that Democrats are desperate to hang on to. (Estrada is no longer a nominee, by the way; he gave up after being held up for a year. He is, however, a fine example of the type of nominee that the Democrats want to block.)
The 10 who have been denied are solid nominees and the Democrats have no basis for opposing them other than politics. For an unbiased review of the qualifications of the 10 who have been denied, you can go here .
So let's be honest about this controversy: It's about politics. And that's OK. The political process is what drives judicial appointments in this country. Judges get appointed by the president who wins the election, with the advice and consent of the Senate. It is only Senate current rules that enable the Democrats to filibuster, not the Constitution, the Bible, nor any kind of holy writ.
In other words, the Dems are simply doing what politicians do: using the existing rules to advance or protect their political goals.
The GOP, by the same token, is considering the use of their duly elected majority to change the (non-Constitutional, non-holy) Senate rules so that the Democrats cannot use those rules to stop the Republicans from getting confirmation for nominees the GOP wants on the bench. The Republicans ran on this issue and won. They are now using their increased political power, duly earned in a legal election, to deliver on their campaign promises. This is exactly what the Democrats would do if the parties' positions were reversed.
The Republicans will prevail if they have the spine to do so. And, my Democrat friends, please relax. This is about politics and expression of the popular will. Everyone is playing by the rules. The Constitution is not at stake; the Republic is safe. We can all sleep soundly in our beds at night.