Ted Kennedy puts down the martini glass and pens a piece for the WaPo:
The president should reject the pressure of the extreme factions of his party that want litmus tests for his nominee. This process shouldn’t just be about whether the next justice would help roll back women’s rights by overturning Roe v. Wade , the law of the land. It should be about something much more basic: protecting our core constitutional values for generations to come, the freedoms that we’ve fought for, bled for and died for. Because of Sandra Day O’Connor, the disabled are guaranteed access to our public courts. Teachers can’t be fired for opposing discrimination against girls in our public schools. Patients can get a second opinion when an HMO tries to deny them care. Our water is cleaner and citizens can stop polluters who dump toxins into our waterways.
I haven’t always agreed with O’Connor. I didn’t agree earlier this year that we should continue to execute juveniles. And I certainly didn’t agree with her in Bush v. Gore .
But she was fair and tried to interpret the law. Unfortunately, many of those whom President Bush has nominated to the lower courts in the past four years have wanted to remake the law to suit their own ideologies. I hope the president will consult with the Senate and select a consensus nominee as dedicated to the Constitution as Sandra Day O’Connor.
More on Kennedy here, including some choice quotes showing his ‘evolving’ postion on how nominees should be scrutinized, but that is besides the point. What is the point is that because this nominee will replace a swing vote, it is going to be ugly. Uglier even than Bork or Thomas (which is about as ugly as it gets). And, something Kennedy fails to recognize is that while the Republicans did change the rulesin the most recent Senates, the Democrats themselves have played their role in creating this antagonistic atmosphere.
You are going to have a tough time convincing me that Clarence Thomas and William Rehnquist are any more conservative than Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer are liberal, yet look at the acrimony that was kicked up for their confirmations. Look at the numbers- they tell the story:
Ruth Bader Ginsber, 97-3
Stephen Breyer, 87-9
William Rehnquist, 65-33
Clarence Thomas, 52-48
I watched the Thomas hearings, and I saw the smear job the Democrats tried. I was home on leave after the Gulf War, and I watched the hearings, incredulously. I listen to the attacks to this day, which always center less on Thomas’s rulings and more on the man himself. “Uncle Tom.” “House Negro.”
I don’t want a wild, fire-breathing, crazed right-winger anymore than anyone else, but if we get one, the Democrat’s own behavior is partially responsible. I would like someone who thnks like Scalia but without the blind spot towards religious issues and matters regarding criminals. Unless I have been really misreading things, it hasn’t really been the right wing of the Court that has shat all over personal privacy as of late. But it was the treatment of Republican nominees that led to the creation of activist groups whose sole purpose for existence was to make sure conservative judges got confirmed.
And I am not going to even bothering to look up which way Kennedy voted on all four of those votes. I think I have a pretty good idea.
*** Update ***
Everyone seems to claim I am ‘dead wrong’ about how liberal Breyer and Ginsberg are- from where I sit, they look pretty liberal. They vote on the liberal side of damn near every issue I have paid attention to, and are considered to be the stalwarts of the ‘liberal wing’ of the Court. My own political positions could color my perception of them, and I am aware of that, but they seem pretty liberally to me.
And who the hell is David Breyer and why do I keep calling Justice Breyer by the name of David?
And also, I saw the Thomas hearings- if you thought it was all well and good and how things should go, bully for you. Looked pretty nasty and underhanded to me, and it still does.
BTW- I never said Democrats were the cause of all of this acrimony- I said they were willing particpants, and they have had their hand in getting us where we currently are. This was a progression, a slow, nasty one, and one that should stop. It is all well and good that Hatch and Clinton consulted, and that Hatch suggested Breyer and Ginsburg. As I have stated over and over again, that was then, this is now. Progression means things get worse- just like strep throat starts as a bad throat infection but can lead to Kidney failure. It wasn’tme who said that we should just dump all niceties and openly suggest we should have ideological attacks during confirmation hearings- that was Chuck Schumer.
For every stupid, obnoxious thing a Republican or a conservative activist has said, I can throw back something from the People for the American Way or Ted Kennedy or Pat Leahy that is just as bad.
The problem isn’t how we got here- I tend to think both sides have had a hand, and I do believe the extremists on boith sides of the aisle have been driving the debate. Right about now, we need a kidney transplant.