Senator Reid's Revisionist History on Judges
It's official. This week, President Bush formally re-nominated 20 judicial nominees whose confirmations were never voted on by the full Senate during his first term, including seven appellate nominees whose confirmations were filibustered by Senate Democrats.
Immediately, Democratic Party leaders, with blatant disregard for facts and truth, shifted their rhetoric into high gear. Press releases, complete with liberal special interest group talking points, were distributed by the offices of Charles Schumer and Teddy Kennedy, et al., in protest. E-mails to liberal activists flooded in-boxes across the country. All hands were on deck to ensure that the Democrat message of "these judicial nominees are dead on arrival" rang out loud and clear.
But when Minority Leader Harry Reid dedicated a significant amount of time to the issue during his weekly press conference, his comments surely left Democrats and Republicans alike scratching their heads and wondering, "Does this guy really know what he is doing?"
"Re-nomination is not the key. I think the question is, those judges ... have already been turned down in the Senate. And unless there's something that is new that I'm not aware of with each of these men and women, we will vote the same way we did in the past," said the Minority Leader.
Pardon? Would someone remind Mr. Reid that none of the nominees re-submitted by the President had their confirmations "turned down in the Senate?" That none of the nominees actually received a "vote." In fact, all of the judicial nominees to which the Minority Leader was referring have bipartisan, majority support and would be confirmed if he would actually allow a constitutionally required up-or-down vote by all 100 Senators.
As justification for his Party's obstructionist tactics on judges, the Minority Leader pointed to what he described as Republican obstructionist tactics against President Clinton's nominees. He must have missed the memo with the colorful bar graph showing that President Clinton had the second largest number of judges confirmed by the Senate in our nation's history.
Reid singled out Judge Richard Paez as an example of such Republican obstruction. That's interesting; Judge Paez sits on the 9th Circuit. He had an up-or-down vote and was confirmed by the Senate in 2000. If all of President Bush's nominees were treated as "poorly" as Judge Paez, there likely wouldn't be any vacancies to fill on the federal bench.
Finally, Minority Leader Reid claimed that the partisan filibuster, the parliamentary maneuver employed by the minority to deny many of President Bush's judges an up-or-down vote, were commonplace. "It's always been a 60-vote for judges. ... Go back many, many, many years. Go back decades and it's always been that way."
Come on Senator. How can you say these things with a straight face? No nominee who has enjoyed majority support — 50-plus votes — in the Senate has ever had their confirmations defeated by a partisan filibuster. None. If you or your staff would have actually looked "back many, many, many years," or "gone back decades," you would have found that the Senate has a long history of confirming nominees without a 60-vote majority support. In fact, Clinton nominees Richard Paez, William Fletcher and Susan Oki Mollway, as well as Carter nominees Abner Mikva and L. T. Senter were all confirmed with less than 60 votes.
The Democrat reaction to the President's re-nominations this week is evidence that the Minority Party in the Senate is unlikely to change its tune on judges. Anything goes — "Use all means necessary to block the President's nominees." Character assassinations and flat-out lies will continue to fly in order to justify filibusters of these and other judicial nominees in the 109th Congress.
That is why the Republican leadership in the Senate must act without delay to end this unconstitutional practice once and for all.
If not, Minority Leader Reid's revisionist history on judges might win the day, and the Minority's partisan obstruction will continue to plague not only the Senate but also our federal courts.
February 16, 2005]