IF YOU THINK BUSH CAN'T DO ANY MORE DAMAGE BEFORE HE'S DUMPED INTO HISTORY'S TRASH HEAP, YOU'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION-- THE JUDICIARY
A few days ago, I was unhappy with something I read in the Inside the Beltway publication, Roll Call, Reid, McConnell Strike Deal to Move Judicial Nominees. Basically it showed Reid caving in the Mitch McConnell's threats to filibuster the highway funding bill unless the Democrats confirmed some more radical right extremists nominated for lifetime judicial positions by Bush. I contacted the Majority Leader's office and they assured me that they plan to confirm non-controversial judges but not ideological extremists. I guess this letter signed by all the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee-- even the often treacherous DiFi-- is a good indication that the Democrats are very aware of how bad for America it would be to confirm Peter Keisler, a co-founder of the Federalist Society and a former law clerk for Robert Bork and the guy McConnell and the Bush Regime are crying about the loudest.
I don't know too many people who have argued cases in front of the Supreme Court. But one is Kathryn Kolbert, the new president of People For the American Way, who has been widely credited as having saved Roe v. Wade with her 1992 argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. I loved her Proudly Liberal statement when she was appointed PFAW president, so I asked her if she would do a guest post at DWT about the situation with the Bush nominees. She sent this today:
HAD ENOUGH OF BUSH JUDGES?
-by Kathryn Kolbert
President Bush is in the twilight of his presidency and his approval ratings are scraping bottom. So what did the Senate do last week? It confirmed yet another of Bush's controversial judicial nominees. And Senators are sending signs that they might cave on yet more nominees in the near future.
Let’s stop for a second and think about what happens when Bush nominees get on the courts. We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s destructive Ledbetter ruling. Lilly Ledbetter suffered pay discrimination for years at an Alabama Goodyear plant. She sued when she became aware of it, and a federal jury awarded her back pay and damages. But rather than pay a modest amount to a wronged employee, Goodyear pursued the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Thanks to Bush’s right-wing nominees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, Goodyear won and it’s now much easier for companies to engage in pay discrimination with impunity.
Despite this and so much else, it’s not just right wingers who are pushing more for Bush nominees to be confirmed to lifetime positions as federal judges. On Tuesday the Washington Post editorial board did exactly that. By focusing on the overall number of nominees confirmed under Clinton and Bush, they missed the point. A far higher percentage of Bush’s nominees have been confirmed than those of Clinton, and the vacancy rate has been cut in half. Clinton only got more nominees confirmed than Bush will because he was faced with many more vacancies when he took office, and he nominated far more nominees.
The Post also ignored the longstanding and bipartisan Senate precedent under which only non-controversial nominees are processed in the months preceding a presidential election. Many of the current nominees, as you might expect, are anything but. DC Circuit nominee Peter Keisler, for instance, co-founded the right-wing Federalist Society, clerked for Robert Bork, and worked on a host of controversial issues in the Reagan White House. The Bush administration refuses to release his records from that time. As it happens, Keisler also worked in the Bush Justice Department and reportedly acted to undermine the government’s landmark tobacco lawsuit.
When Clinton tried to fill the exact same seat that Keisler’s been nominated to, Republicans blocked the effort. They claimed the court’s caseload was to too low to warrant an additional judge. Now, even though the caseload has since decreased, they are threatening to shut down the Senate if he's not confirmed. Go figure.
We didn’t think that the GOP’s manufactured hysterics over judges were fooling anyone, but the Post proved us wrong. At the top of Bush’s current batch of nominees, besides Keisler, is a longtime board member of a group that nominated Rush Limbaugh for the Nobel Prize. Another criticized the notion of safe sex as a way to avoid contracting AIDS. These are apparently the kind of people that the Post wants on the federal bench for life.
If Bush wanted more of his nominees to win confirmation, he would have consulted with the Senate and put forth non-controversial nominees. He has overwhelmingly failed to do so, and his successful nominees have all too often set themselves to undermining Americans’ rights. The clock has run out for Bush and his right-wing nominees. Senate Democrats should ignore the Post’s misguided advice and say “enough!”
Here's that letter I mentioned (although not all the signatures are on the page):
click to enlarge