Those reactionary right-wingers over at the Washington Post agree with my assessment of Reid’s position:
IN ANNOUNCING his opposition yesterday to the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to be chief justice of the United States, Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) made a remarkable statement: “The president is not entitled to very much deference in staffing the third branch of government, the judiciary.” Leave aside the merits of the Roberts nomination, which we support; if Mr. Reid regards Judge Roberts as unworthy, he is duty-bound to vote against him. But these are dangerous words that Democrats will come to regret.
This country has only one president at a time. That president, right now President Bush, is tasked with naming judges. The Senate has the role of providing advice and consent on the president’s choices, which is a significant constitutional task. But if the presidential election means anything in this arena, it must mean that the president’s choice has a heavy presumption of confirmation. That is the way the system works. Why else would Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, Stephen G. Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg have received only a handful of no-votes among them? During the Clinton administration, we deplored the way that the Senate treated the president’s judicial nominees during six years of Republican control over the Senate. Yet during those six years, the Senate confirmed 245 of President Bill Clinton’s judges. If Republicans had been applying Mr. Reid’s standard, they would have been within their rights to reject them all.
We can argue all day over where the nastiness with the confirmation processes started, who has been more partisan, who has escalated tensions more, etc. Partisans on both sides will point the finger at the other guy, and some of you will come in here and tell me how far out of the mainstream Judge Roberts is- something Jeffrey Rosen, Jeffrey Toobin, Cass Sunstein, and just about every court observer I have read will deny. So go ahead and make your case, but beware I am not buying it. And I do know who is to blame for the recent escalation in tensions in the confirmation process.
And it ain’t Bushhitler.
If the President nominates someone, the Senate HAS to confirm him, or at least thats what I read from WaPo.
Is that what you really feel, John? When does the deference towards Bush end? Puppy eatting? Kitten fondling? A BJ in the Oval Office from Jeff Gannon? When does stating that you believe that someone is not fit for the SCOTUS and so you are voting against them become bi-partisan?
I still remember death threats against anyone that voted against the Patriot Act… When will it stop?
As far as I’m concerned, replacing Rheinquist with Roberts is a net positive (probably; it’s like asking whether you want the goat or what’s behind door number 1). But, I sure as hell couldn’t vote for someone for a lifetime appointment to the highest post in the judicial branch without knowing everything there is to know about how this guy will judge. Can’t blame Reid for saying no, but if the Dems make a big stink over it, it will probably hurt them politically.
Poor John. He can’t stand the *sniff* partisanship *sob* that has taken over this great institution, and he *sniff* can’t imagine where it came from. Maybe Coburn will let you borrow his hanky.
We will have plenty of time to play the blame game after the SCOTUS vacancies are filled John. If you loved America like I do you wouldn’t stoop so low as to muddy the nomination process with your partisan attacks.
Seriously, what do you expect from politicians these days? There is absolutely no benefit for the Democrats to try and compromise with Bush. Dubya’s refusal to negotiate has come back to haunt him and now he is reaping what he has sown. I don’t think that is the best thing for our country, but I do think it is the best we can expect right now.
Politics is war continued by other means and the Dems expect no quarter from you and you should expect the same from them.
I usually just lurk on here, but after reading this I just had to post and ask if anyone else thinks is funny?
Ah yes, the ever so thoughtful rational left.
Patrick Leahy said he would vote “yes” for Roberts confirmation = good cop. Harry Reid voting “no” = bad cop. Plays to the Dems loony base without going too far overboard
Good catch, Dan Spartan. So, from the horse’s mouth we have it–John Cole is a Republican partisan. And here I thought he was an independently-minded conservative. Go figure.
Dan Spartan- Well, in isolation, it sure does look like I am doing nothing but blaming Democrats. But, if you check the archives, I have pointed out repeatedly the Republican role in all this, including Hatch re-writing rules he simply didn’t like, and the outright partisanship of Republicans during the Clinton era and beyond.
However, right now, the Democrats are the ones playing games.
Shygetz- Thanks for your 2 cents. Really, what makes running this site so enjoyable is the driveby sniping from people like Dan and Shygetz, who take a statement, clip it, and then use it absent any context of my past positions or opinions. Like this.
And btw- I have noted I am partisan in the past- I am trying to work past that, but that is not an issue here. The Democrats are just playing games with Judge Roberts.
John, that’s ‘Bushitler’, with only one ‘h’. Geez, you’d think you’d know that by now.
Worth pointing out that extreme left former ACLU lawyer Ruth B. Ginsberg was confirmed to the Supreme Court 96 – 3.
Ginsberg: The government has a legal “duty” to use taxpayer funds to subsidize abortion. How’s that for out of the mainstream?
The Republicans confirmed 245 of Clinton’s nominees in eight years? So what. Bush has gotten over 200 of his confirmed in half the time. This article says nothing about the number blocked. How many of Clinton’s nominees were blocked ot failed to get a vote? Why were there so many opening for Bush? How many of bush’s nominees were blocked? Was it even a dozen? And of those few blocked how many were recess apoointed? Bush has gotten his way 98% of the time.
Clinton’s SC nominees were selected WITH THE REPUBLICANS ADVANCE INPUT AND APPROVAL! Was Roberts?
Bush has deliberately selected a stalking horse nominee with no paper trail as a judge and withheld pertinant documents. Sure, he won the election and he gets to pick his man. He might even some the presumption of confirmation. But Democrats don’t have to support him. Reid and the Dems aren’t going to “obstruct” or “block” Roberts in any way. So he’ll be confirmed without the support of every Senator, I’m sure he’ll still get 60+ votes. What’s fucking good enough for you guys on the right? Jesus.
Members of the opposition party are justified to set a bar that at least they should be given a reason better than “Bush could have nominated Darth Vader” as a reason to blindly appoint an unknown quantity to Chief Justice for the next forty fucking years.
Reid provided Bush with a list of acceptable candidates, which Bush ignored. (note that when Clinton was president, he worked with the GOP leadership on supreme court nominations). Reid is perfectly correct in voting against someone for the LIFETIME appointment (and given that Roberts is a mere 50 years old, he will probably be around for at least 30 years) to the highest judicial position in the nation.
Politicians will always play politics, but there are some people who soured on Roberts after his hearings. I think Joe Biden is right about ‘rolling the dice’ on Roberts. Why shouldn’t Americans learn what to expect from a SCOTUS Justice during his nomination hearings? If Roberts is smart enough to evade questions he is smart enough to answer them without prejudicing himself in future SCOTUS cases.
Roberts would have been confirmed with over 85 votes given different circumstances.
The issue driving this is that Dems can’t bring themselves to believe that Karl Rove didn’t do his homework on the guy.
When an administration has one approach to every problem–pander to its hardcore base of support–it becomes unimaginable for those on the other side that he may be acting in good faith in such a hot button area.
John, I’ve been reading your blog for about two months. I am a liberal but generally find your take refreshing and certainly not in line with most wingnuts. It just struck me as funny that in the same post you seemed to decry the partisan sniping and then engage in it yourself. Just an observation and not meant as a “flyby” post. I actually THOUGHT it was funny and just shows how everyone plays partisan politics sometimes.
As for Roberts, I agree that the Democrats lost the election in 04 and therefore Bush(I prefer Shrub to Bushitler) was going to nominate a conservative, duh. And while I have misgivings about Roberts, I know that he will be confirmed. But your outcry over Reid voting against him seems confounding, since he is a DEMOCRAT and many democrats don’t like Roberts as a nominee. Voting against Roberts will provide Reid cover with base Democrats and if history is any predictor, will probably serve him well considering Roberts is a Bush Nominee. Because, you know, it seems Bush really knows how to nominate qualified people for important positions.
Life time appointment that could last for 30+ years. How to act in such a situation must be in the 29th Amendment to the Constitution or something.
Is it just me or was Scalia 50 when he was appointed? And yet he was confirmed with over 90 votes. Ginsburg was 60 and she’s a woman so she’s likely to live 7 years longer than an average man. So she’s likely to serve 25+ years. And she got more than 90 votes.
Wow! It’s like the standards (or at least the talking points of the Dems) have changed. Makes me wonder why…
Scalia is one reason why a lot of Dems are being careful–that’s one vote they’d like to have back.
Bob Dole did not denounce Ruth Ginsburg
Bob Dole did not denounce Stephen Breyer
Harry Reid just acted like Tara Reid. Except he ain’t blond, he ain’t drunk and as far as I know, he ain’t had implants
If that is too partisan for you, too bad
It’s Nancy Pelosi who’s got the implants. Brass ones.
And Botox. Lots of Botox.
Bullshit. POTUS nominates. SOTUS advises and consents, not rubber stamps. If a presumption of confirmation is wanted, then, the POTUS should try getting some advice from the SOTUS.
What?!?!?! This crap right after having said:
What makes this idiot think that the dominant party will change it’s MO or remain the dominant party? Maybe Reid expects to override POTUS vetos.
So Robert’s use of inflamatroy language such as “rule of law” is the fault of who?
Didn’t we see the testimonies of Judge Nathaniel R. Jones and Rep. John Lewis? The past doesn’t die as easily as we would like. Everybody knows that the compassion of Worst-POTUS-Ever is a just a part of his charade.
Maybe the escalations are necessary to get the Senatorial Crackers to vote for Robert’s the corporatist, assuming Robert’s is one.
I’ll leave this to chew on and tell me if we’ve come far enough.
That wasn’t meant to be a drive-by sniping. More like a mafia-style hit. Do you not see the irony of lamenting about nastiness and partisanship, pointing out that partisans will be the ones involved in finger-pointing, and then pointing fingers? Come on, you lob me one like that and then whine when I take a swing? It’s not like I’m cutting and pasting things from three different posts.
Boy, this was a thread really worth reading. Perhaps next time, rather than “No, you’re the partisan!” we could just proceed directly to the slap-fight?
I agree that in a sense, Democrats are the ones playing games right now, but that’s because it isn’t their nominee. Would it even be possible for the Republicans to “play games,” so to speak? (That’s assuming you don’t think the coy refusal to disclose one’s judicial philosophy counts as a “game,” a discussion I’m not getting into right now.) I’m guessing if Al Gore had been president and Rehnquist stepped down in 2002, this whole mess probably would look about the same, not because Republican Senators are bad people, but just because the political background is what it is.
And I’m not entirely sure it’s helpful to talk of recent escalation; I think we’ve been on the same upward slope for a while (the 90s were worse than the 80s were worse than the 70s etc.), and while no one’s doing a very good job to turn it around, it seems to be bigger than the instant maneuverings of one nomination.
It’s not the heat, it’s the stupidity.
Actually Mr. Reid’s standard does come from the Republicans.
I don’t understand all the Republican whining over something they themselves did.
Bruce from Missouri
And once again John decries the behavior of both parties while demanding that the Democrats back down first….
This is getting predictable.
The Comish (sic)
What really annoys me about the posts in this thread isn’t the partisanship — heck, I expect that from some of you — it’s the utter and complete disdain for facts that disagree with your partisan worldview. Here’s a good example from Lines:
The article doesn’t say that. It says “heavy presumption.” It takes a strong, partisan filter to avoid the plain language staring everyone in the face.
I’ll try to clear up some of the “confusion.” Please note that I can’t address everything; that would take too long, and I have a feeling some of you aren’t interested in the truth anyway. But Mr. Furious is a good example of someone who got nothing right.
The Comish (sic)
I’ll try and be brief, since we’re not arguing about filibusters.
Clinton had 200 nominees confirmed in his first 4 years. Over his 8 years, he had 377 nominees confirmed; that’s the 2nd highest total ever (1st highest was Reagan, with 382). Please note that over the last 6 years of Clinton’s admin, he was facing a majority opposition Republican Senate. Bush’s Senate has been in his same party, and yet he’s facing a lower confirmation rate than Clinton, supposedly due to appointing people whose ideology is “out of the mainstream.” To have the minority party appoint itself the arbitor of what ideology is in the mainstream strikes me as ridiculous. If their ideology was in the mainstream, maybe they would have won a few more elections.
Yes. But I don’t expect this to make it past your partisan filter. (I could say anything in here and you wouldn’t see it. It’s totally liberating!)
Please note that the President isn’t required to consult or negotiate with anyone, including the Senate’s minority party. So says Federalist #66 (emphasis added):
But in an ongoing effort to be bipartisan, he did so. And his attempts were paid back by Senators taking out an ad in the NY Times calling for Bush to consult with him. Politics is a dirty business.
Are you kidding me? He was a judge in the DC Court of Appeals! He’s authored opinions! The Senate presumably has access to Westlaw and the internet to pull up those opinions. Similarly, the Senate has access to all the papers he’s ever written, including policy papers written while he was with the White House, scholarly articles written while he was a lawyer, and even his student articles from law school. What else do you want? By all means, please inform us what “pertinent documents” have been withheld. (However, your “no paper trail” allegation is beyond explanation; it’s just false).
How about applying the Constitutional standard? How about not being a hypocrite who criticizes the Republicans for playing ideological games with the court, and then doing it yourself when given the chance?
And what’s fucking bad enough for you guys on the left to go against the Dems? I suspect the answer to that is, “Nothing.”
The Comish (sic)
“Rule of law” is inflammatory language? To whom? Totalitarians? Egalitarians? Fascists? But surely not Democrats.
“The rule of law” means that the democratically-made law applies to all people – rich or poor, politician or civilian – equally; no man is bigger than the law. All lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and politicians – of all parties in all Western countries – say that they ascribe to the philosophy of “rule of law.”
It’s importance is described (probably by Alexander Hamilton) in Federalist #78. De Tocqueville described it as one of the things that makes America so great. And an inscription on the Supreme Court building accurately describes its goal: “Equal Justice Under Law.”
I submit that the phrase “rule of law” is only inflammatory to people who don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. Like you.
The Comish (sic)
Fantastic. So Bush should have chosen from Reid’s list of “acceptable candidates”? Perhaps you can show me in the Constitution where a member of the Senate minority gets to provide a list of “acceptable candidates.” I’ve already pointed to the Federalist Papers, which say that it’s the President’s nomination, and that the Senate (let alone a member of the Senate minority) doesn’t get any voice in the choice.
And Clinton consulted with one (1) Republican Senator about his Supreme Court nominations: Senator Orrin Hatch. Hatch believed the President was entitled to vast deference on his nominations. His consultation with Hatch was limited to personality or political conflicts. To the extent there were problems (and I don’t know that there were), Clinton was free to nominate anyone with the same ideology.
That’s vastly different than what the Dems are doing here. They’re opposing Bush’s nominees based solely on ideology, not personality or political conflicts. And that exceeds the Senate’s role in the nomination and confirmation process.
The Comish (sic)
As Roberts himself said, if nominees were forced to divulge their stance on issues, the nominees will be forced to agree to vote a certain way in order to receive the Senate’s approval. For example, Roberts could (or would have to) agree to vote a certain way on an environmental case that’s going before the Court, or agree to vote a certain way on parental consent laws. That kind of vote trading defeats the independence of the judiciary guaranteed in the Constitution.
Not to mention that there are judicial rules of conduct and the Constitution which prohibit judges discussing how they would rule on hypothetical issues.
But more than that, I have two words for you: Robert Bork. You should watch his nomination hearings some time. He actually answered all the questions, and even ended up debating with the Senate about judicial philosophy. Bork had no problems answering questions about his stand on issues. And every time he chose a side on some issue, he alienated someone on the other side. By the end of the hearings, enough people felt like he’d rule against them on some issue that his nomination was withdrawn.
And that’s why no one — Republican or Democrat — will answer those types of questions any more.
John, I like this site a lot. You seem like a nice guy. And you seem smart enough. So I’m going to ask you this: when you talk about how the Senate usually just considers nominees based on their merits and so on, do you mean here on planet earth? Because if you don’t, then maybe you’re right.
On the “numbers”: I was only going by the numbers in the article JC quoted. BUT that article says Clinton got 245 nominated over SIX years. Which six I don’t know, but it doesn’t quite match your numbers. It’s irrelevant, however. What matters is how many WEREN’T confirmed. Off the top of my head, Bush has had a handful (a dozen? less than ten?) judges bounced back. He recess appointed a few of them, and then once re-elected, resubmitted the others. I believe it leaves only five or six of his choices (if that many) failing to reach the bench (casualties of the famed Nuclear Compromise).
According to this (and that seems to be a pro-Repub site) Clinton got 245 of his nominees through during the six years of Republican-controlled Senate. A 71% success rate. I might not remember my math formulas right, but that leaves about a hundred that weren’t confirmed. A HUNDRED! And even if you assume he got every single judge he put up in the other two years, his percentage only rises to the 77-78% range. But that assumption would be wrong. Clinton actually encountered the strongest opposition of any recent Administration from his own party’s Senate for his nominations for judges and his cabinet! Remember that Reno was his third choice for AG? If anything that is an indication of the Democrats taking their advise/consent role more seriously and not acting as a rubber stamp for ANY President, regardless of Party. Would that the Republicans would do the same…
All in all, without complete numbers of confirmed, turned away and every possible combination, this is hard to judge. I haven’t found a site that gives all of the numbers, only ones with a bias that present some numbers to fit their argument one way or the other. I would love to see ALL of the numbers, point it out to me if you have one.
On Roberts: Try me. Don’t say “yes” and then claim I won’t listen to reason. This is a crap answer. I WON’T take your word for it, you have to offer something. Early on after O’Conner retired, bush had some “show” meetings with Dems, and Roberts was never discussed much less approved. They gave Bush a list of acceptable candidates (much like the Republicans did for Clinton–and he selected judges for the SC on that list). Bush chose to ignore suggestions, and did not in any way get prior approval or even feedback on Roberts. If you know differntly, speak up.
He’s been a judge for only two years. How many opinions has he written? What is the White house withholding? Here is an article on that.
As JC regularly reminds us (to his credit) the reason some of the Democrats actions might seem more extreme is that the Republicans changed the rules! Democrats have none of the early, procedural methods of opposing nominees (blue slips, etc.).
Show me the hypocrisy in my post upthread. Seriously. And as far as what would cause me to go against the dems? Filibustering Roberts. I oppose that. Vote “no” if you like, register your lack of approval, but do not block the confirmation. Is that fucking good enough for you? Trust me, I am far more critical of MY Party than you’ll ever know.