Democrats Can Blame Themselves for Judicial Nominees Mess

But Democrats have only themselves to blame.


Democrats should consider going into comedy since their efforts at legislating are so poor, and their comments last week during the Goodwin Liu confirmation were nothing short of hilarious.

Seriously, can you imagine how Sen. Barbara Boxer, or any of the other liberal lions in the Senate,  would have reacted if then-nominee Samuel Alito had made similar comments about Goodwin Liu if the roles had had been reversed?  She would have had her own personal Rapture I am sure. Boxer was furious at the defeat of Liu, who is a professor at UC Berkley. She warned the defeat would not be forgotten. Yawn.  If it was forgotten, now that would be news.

For those not familiar with Liu’s thoughts on Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court, read more here.

Democrats have argued Liu’s rejection by Republicans was out of spite because of his comments about Alito. Whether that is true or not is irrelevant, because if Democrats have anyone to blame for their predicament with Liu (or any other future nominee of Obama’s) they have only themselves. [Check out editorial cartoons about the Democrats.]

Alberto Gonzales.

Miguel Estrada.

Charles Pickering.

Democrats argue that these men were too extreme. Please. They just didn’t like them. If anyone was holding a grudge, it was Democrats during the Bush terms who were still annoyed about Florida. They will argue Republicans held up judicial appointments by President Bill Clinton. 

But look at the vote totals for Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. While Democrats were the majority party on both votes in the '90s, Republicans recognized these individuals to be qualified and fit for the court. Sure their ideology might have been “wrong” but hardly a soul questioned their abilities. Ginsburg was approved 97-3, and Breyer was 89-7. Compare that with the votes for Bush nominees Justice John Roberts (78-22) and Alito (58-42). An interesting side note to history, talk about grudges, it was none other than Sen. John Kerry, the defeated presidential candidate from a year before, who lead the charge against Alito. It’s unlikely this was just a coincidence.

This is not to say Republicans are without blame. They didn’t filibuster Clinton’s judicial nominees to lower courts so much as they refused to hold hearings on them, which meant they were never going to be seated in first place. And it seems that no matter what Obama and Democrats say these days, Republicans are very quick to criticize. God forbid he, or any other Democrat should have a good idea because between now and November 2012, it won’t get a fair shake by most in the GOP. [See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.]

In the modern era this insistence on advocating against judges nominated by the opposing party stems back to the Democrats defeat of Robert Bork for the seat now held on the court by Anthony Kennedy. Over the last 25 years the Senate has in many ways acted like a bunch of kindergartners upset about their trucks and dolls being taken. 

“He did it,” say Republicans.  “No she did it” counter Democrats.

The reality is President Barack Obama won in 2008 and not John McCain. As such he has the right to nominate whomever he sees fit to the various courts. Republicans should confirm his justices, assuming they are qualified and of the right temperament (if not ideology) when they are nominated. Our judicial system is so backed up, justices should receive an up or down vote, unless there are extreme circumstances. Liu, unlike previous Obama nominees Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagen and Sonia Sotomayor or the aforementioned Bush appointees, was one of these cases. 

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