Friday, October 16, 2009

Republicans Jeopardizing Judicial System Effectiveness With Narrow Partisan Obstructionism


3 evil clowns: Sessions, Kyl, McConnell

You may have noticed that the senatorial obstructionist bloc, also known as the Senate Republican Party Caucus, has been blocking all of President Obama's judicial nominations. Party whip Jon Kyl bragged that he intended to do exactly that even before President Obama was inaugurated. Yesterday CQPolitics pointed to the case of a Dianne Feinstein recommendation to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Edward Chen, who every single Republican on the Judiciary Committee voted against. The ranking Republican on the committee, Jeff Sessions (AL), who is also the Senate's top Ku Klux Klan rep and an unabashed racist, said he's worried Chen would "allow his personal views to influence his rulings unduly," exactly what he said when he voted against Sonia Sotomayor. And, backing him up (again) was Texas racist John Cornyn.

Chen, a magistrate judge since 2001, would be the first Asian-American to serve on California’s northern district bench if the Republicans stop blocking the nomination. Feinstein reacted angrily to Republican obstructionism: “I don’t believe there’s a spot, a blemish, a wart on his record as a magistrate judge."
Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy , D-Vt., issued a statement noting that the pace of judicial confirmations this year is much slower than during President George W. Bush ’s first year in office in 2001. The Senate has confirmed just one of Obama’s [23] appeals court nominees and one of his district court nominees. By contrast, Leahy said, the Senate by October 2001 had confirmed eight of Bush’s nominees, including four circuit court picks.

Led by a blatant and unrepentant racist like Sessions-- whose vile racism led to his own failure to be confirmed to a judicial nomination-- the Republicans are just blocking all non-whites who get nominated, although "some Democrats attribute that GOP success partly to the administration's reluctance to fight, arguing that Obama's emphasis on easing partisan rancor over judgeships has backfired and only emboldened Senate Republicans." Another example of their racist obstructionism is against respected former Wisconsin Supreme Court Judge, Louis Butler who President Obama nominated to the District Court in Madison at the request of both Wisconsin's U.S. senators, Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold. Judges are confirmed-- or, these days, stonewalled-- in the Senate but opposition to Judge Butler, who was the first African-American to sit on his state's Supreme Court, is being led by a bigoted slob Rep., Jim Sensebrenner. Sensenbrenner, whose suburban Milwaukee district is 95% white, keeps whining about how Butler lost a statewide election. What he neglects to mention is that it was an unprecedented vicious campaign against a sitting judge by racially motivated bigots like himself who poured immense amounts of money into a messaging machine that did nothing but spread malicious and unfounded lies about him for months. Butler's opponent, a right-wing hack named Gableman "turned his campaign over to political operatives who apparently had honed their "slash and burn" political skills over the years in bitter executive and legislative branch election campaigns."
The campaign circulated a letter over the signature of former Lieutenant Governor Margaret Farrow alleging that Justice Butler had provided the deciding vote in a sexual predator criminal case that resulted in the "release of the predator into Milwaukee County." That allegation proved to be unquestionably false. Later, the Gableman campaign ran a disgraceful, deliberately misleading ad cast in an offensive, race-baiting style to negatively attack Justice Butler's role as a former public defender. The ad again falsely suggested that a dangerous criminal was released as a result of Justice Butler's work and asked if Wisconsin families are safe with Justice Butler on the court.

While that ad was widely seen as a new low for Wisconsin Supreme Court election activities, several third-party groups released a blizzard of mostly negative ads that virtually defined the election process for most (potential) voters.

Using the standard obstructionist talking points, Sensebrenner called the nomination "another example of the mismanaged way Washington is working under President Obama." Sensenbrenner's was the only district in Wisconsin that didn't vote for Obama last year. The obstructionist congressman didn't have an electoral opponent. Sensenbrenner isn't the real problem, though-- other than in this one Wisconsin case. The real problem is premeditated GOP obstructionism which is being orchestrated by Miss McConnell and Jon Kyl. Last month the nonpartisan Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, on behalf of dozens of organizations concerned by the stonewalling of judicial nominations, sent a letter to McConnell asking him to end the partisan monkey business and to start thinking about the country for a change.
On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we seek your cooperation in eliminating the troubling backlog of judicial and executive branch nominees that exists to date in the 111th Congress. The obstruction of many of President Obama's nominees through filibuster threats and anonymous "holds" is hindering the important work of our judicial and executive branches of government and threatening any prospect of bipartisan cooperation on many pressing national issues important to all Americans.

Since his inauguration, President Obama has nominated 18 individuals to serve as Article III judges. Yet, only one judge in addition to Justice Sonia Sotomayor has been confirmed. While we recognize the time and energy required to confirm a Supreme Court nominee, it is time for the Senate to move forward without delay on the growing backlog of lower court nominees who have been cleared by the Judiciary Committee. President Obama has worked with the Senate on a bipartisan basis to select extraordinarily well-qualified judicial nominees who could easily be confirmed by widespread margins and begin serving the public, if brought to a vote before the full Senate.

In addition, a significant number of nominees to positions in the President's Administration, including high-level positions in the Department of Justice, have not yet been confirmed. Obstructing important executive branch nominees through filibusters or anonymous holds frustrates the legitimate business of government. This obstruction grows increasingly problematic as we approach the ninth month of President Obama's administration.

We are particularly troubled, for example, by the refusal to allow Professor Dawn Johnsen's nomination to the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) within the Department of Justice to receive an up-or-down vote before the full Senate. Professor Johnsen has already served with distinction in the OLC, and is undoubtedly well-qualified for the position. Her nomination was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in March. The OLC plays a highly important role within the Administration, and the failure to confirm the President's nominee to lead the office prevents the OLC from providing crucial legal advice on a wide range of issues currently confronting our nation.

They urged McConnell to work in a bipartisan manner with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. McConnell, of course, has ignored their entreaties. The kinds of judges Sessions and McConnell want nominated are ones like Louisiana Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell in Tangipahoa Parish, someone more like themselves, as Ken demonstrated last night. Yesterday Bardwell denied a marriage license to a racially mixed couple, each over 30. Like Sessions, Bardwell claims-- with a straight face-- to not be a racist. I thought this might be as good a time as any to re-listen to Nanci Griffith's groundbreaking title track from her latest album The Loving Kind:

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At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Balakirev said...

I'm admittedly ignorant about the whole appointment process for federal branch employees and justices, so if anyone can please tell me: is the congressional ratification a matter of extended courtesy, or a requirement? I was under the impression it's the former, but I could be wrong.

At 4:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democrats plus Lieberman and Sanders have SIXTY (60) VOTES. If there is any filibustering and obstruction IT IS the Democrats who allowing the obstructions. Come on HARRY, do your job!

At 6:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"is the congressional ratification a matter of extended courtesy, or a requirement?"

A constitutional requirement. The Senate must consent to the judicial nominee.

At 2:19 PM, Blogger Observer said... suppose those Republicans have watched the Dems in action all these years. You know when the Dems were so polite and nice to Bush's judicial nominees? I recall how wonderfully Justice Thomas was treated. And let's not forget Miguel Estrada, Priscilla Owen, and Janice Rogers Brown to name a few. Righteous fits you so well.
As to your photograph of Sessions, Kyl, McConnell that would be use of Rule Number Five. Who ever did the art work did a great job....


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