There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, May 23, that I just got around to reading that put the whole judicial filibuster controversy into perspective. The gist of the article is that the extreme political views of Bush’s nominees is not the issue so much as which courts they are going to.
Many of the nation’s circuit courts today are precariously balanced on either a partisan or ideological level. The Bush administration has carefully selected judicial nominees with extremist views and matched them with circuit courts where they could wreak the most havoc. For example, Janice Rogers Brown, who likes to compare the government’s regulatory authority to slavery, is poised to take a seat on the D.C. Circuit court that handles the majority of appeals of government agency rulings.
Then there is William Myers, a long-time lobbyist for cattlemen and mining interests who has a long history of attacking environmental groups who is nominated for a seat on the 9th Circuit which deals with most land-use cases.
And William Pryor, the former Alabama attorney general who thinks the Voting Rights Act needs to be overhauled and gutted, is nominated for a seat on the 11th Circuit court which has jurisdiction over a large portion of the south.
But why shouldn’t Bush be allowed to tip the balance on these courts? After all, he won the election so he should be allowed to do what he wants, right? Well, yes and no. That brings us to the final point of the article and the one that sticks the deepest in the craw of the Democrats. Many of these court vacancies that Bush is trying to fill first became vacant during the Clinton administration. Yes, that’s right. They should currently be filled with Clinton appointees, but Republicans used Senate rules to block Clinton’s nominees and then once Bush came into office they changed the rules so that Democrats couldn’t do the same thing and now they are trying to push through hard right nominees to fill seats that by all rights should have gone to Democratic appointees. And remember that Republicans have controlled the White House for 17 of the last 25 years, so they have had ample opportunity to get their own nominees in place making it all the more unfair for them to be stealing away Democratic spots.