Buried at the bottom of this Washington Post article was this interesting tidbit pertaining to the controversy over the judicial confirmation process:
All rhetoric to the contrary, the Senate actually does approve some federal judges. At 5 p.m. today, the Senate is scheduled to begin considering the nomination of Paul A. Crotty to be U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York. Democrats predict he will be approved by a wide margin and with the support of both New York senators, Democrats Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Crotty's nomination has been pending awhile. Democrats complain that Republicans are purposely not sending consensus judges to the Senate floor so that the confirmation rate doesn't increase. After Crotty's presumed approval today, the tally will be 205 judges confirmed since Bush was elected in 2000, with 10 not confirmed.
"They wanted to have just the bad judges on the floor to make us look obstructionist and let pressure mount toward a nuclear showdown," one senior Democratic Senate aide said.
When Bill Clinton was in office, Republicans blocked 61 of his judicial nominees from coming up for a vote. Now these same hypocritical Republicans are threatening to change Senate rules to keep Democrats from filibustering any of Bush’s nominees all because they have blocked 10 of his picks. Note: Republicans have already changed a number of Senate rules that they used when they were in the minority to block Clinton nominees - thus leaving Democrats with only the filibuster to block any Bush nominees they object to.
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article today (4/12/05 A4) about the Republicans threat to use the “nuclear option” the next time Democrats try to filibuster one of Bush’s judicial nominees. The story essentially points out that Majority Leader Bill Frist doesn’t have the votes to back up his threat because moderate Republicans like Lincoln Chafee, Olypia Snowe, Susan Collins and Chuck Hagel are either wavering or opposed. Meanwhile, even some conservatives like John McCain and John Warner are warning against taking such drastic steps.
But the part that got to me was this sentence:
President Bush has largely ignored the tradition of consulting with home-state senators before settling on judicial nominees.
This ticks me off because when Bill Clinton was in office he did follow this tradition and as a result nominated a number of judges who were hand-picked by Republicans like Orrin Hatch and Trent Lott.
Senators Orrin Hatch and Trent Lott each suggested candidates for district court seats in their home states; Hatch pushed strongly for the nomination of Ted Stewart in Utah, and Lott recommended Allen Pepper in Mississippi. Despite concerns expressed by civil rights and environmental groups, both Stewart and Pepper were nominated by President Clinton and quickly confirmed.
So, ironically, we have a lot of very conservative judges out there right now who are “Clinton-nominees” because President Clinton respected the tradition that Bush is now thumbing his nose at.