In what is becoming the standard procedure for the Dems these days, we’re hearing a lot of complaining about how those despicable Republicans are “stonewalling” President Obama’s judicial nominees. Every one of those Dems charging that this situation is somehow unwarranted have no one to blame but themselves. And any of them who assert otherwise are either liars, hypocrites, ignorant, or a combination of the three. Though it appears that Dems would like to act as if history started in January of 2009, the facts are quite clear – Democrats are the ones who turned this judicial nomination process into a partisan event and they have done so far more often and aggressively than anything they’re dealing with today.
Democrats were notorious for filibustering judicial nominees during the Bush administration, a situation that got so heated, both parties had to strike a deal to prevent GOP leaders from rolling over foes with the so-called “nuclear option.” And while nominees under Obama are having a tougher time clearing final confirmation than under Bush, the candidates are getting hearings three times faster than they did during the Bush years.
“Hearings have been scheduled at a much more rapid case,” a Senate Republican aide said. “Republicans have not engaged in any indiscriminate stall tactics, and to suggest otherwise is inconsistent with the numbers.”
According to GOP-kept data, Circuit Court nominees have waited an average of 48 days to reach committee. They waited an average of 135 days under Bush — and during the first two years of the Bush administration, that number was 176.
By the way, it may be “GOP-kept data” but no one’s arguing that it’s incorrect and the numbers are easily accessed in the public domain. The fact of the matter is that it was the Dems during the Bush administration who introduced the delay-at-all-costs-and-for-as-long-as-possible approach to judicial nominees. To whine and cry about it now when the shoe is on the other foot is the height of hypocrisy. Of course, they’re doing so now about the supposedly long waits Obama’s nominees are getting. They’ll really start wailing when the nominees start getting resistance from the Republicans during the actual confirmation process. To which I say, again, reap what ye sow. Back in January 2006 we were watching the Dems vote nearly party-line against the confirmation of Justice Alito. I wrote about it then:
Alito’s record of ruling by the laws passed by the legislature was never the issue. His rate of being overturned by appeals wasn’t the issue. The issue – fully, completely – was 1) whether Alito would die before voting to overturn Roe v. Wade and 2) whether he’d side with Congress against the President when any question of who had the authority in a given matter was raised. The Dems and leftish Republican Lincoln Chafee thought the answer to both those questions was “no” and, therefore, voted no. Experience and a 15-year record on the bench be damned, Alito’s politics were just the wrong flavor.
And this, thanks to the Democrats and Mr. Chafee, is now the playing field all subsequent nominees will get to play on. All their work, all their learning, all their striving to be good jurists are useless wastes of time. Only their stance on the more divisive issues of the day in question will matter. Paul (ed: Mirnegoff, of Power Line) [is] right: from here on out, no President will be able to select the best, most talented members of the legal profession to sit on the High Court unless his party controls the Senate. If they don’t, only the most bland ones will do.
This new era into which we are being carried along with all the nominees to come is entirely of the Democrats’ making. I hope they enjoy the change to the world they’ve wrought.
Lest anyone jump immediately to their feet and contest that last thought, I’ve already addressed that, too:
Who do you think gets hurt by that most? The President, whoever that is? Hardly. Eight years and they’re gone. Congress? What do they care? They’ve made sure most laws they pass don’t apply to them anyway. No, my fellow Americans, it’s us. We citizens who get to live with the results of their petty squabbling will pay the price of having people at the highest level of the judicial system making boneheaded decisions due to a lack of experience, insight, and just plain good jurisprudence. The Republicans had, during the Clinton years of 1994 to 2000, opportunities to play this politics game with the membership of the Supreme Court. They recognized that a difference in idealogy was insufficient reason to vote down a qualified candidate for the post. That the idealogy wasn’t the point of the nomination at all. They had the chance to do exactly what the Democrats have done here today – and they controlled the Senate so it would have stuck – and they didn’t. They placed the respect for the will of the people as embodied in their choice for President above their idealogical differences with the man and focused on the judicial qualifications of the nominee. The Democrats have not and do not. What benefit could possibly accrue to the Republicans and their supporters to not follow this example?
Emphasis mine, here. That was in 2006 and the change to the game board engineered by the Democrats has been shown in the votes since then. As I mentioned before the Alito vote there was a clear difference in the voting patterns when nominees were brought by Republican vs. Democratic presidents.
You can see the difference in attitude when you look at the list of sitting justices, who nominated them, and the votes by which they were confirmed. Since the Robert Bork nomination, no conservative has been confirmed with more than 78 votes. No liberal has been confirmed with less than 87. (Only 1, in fact, has had less than 90.) It is clear that since Bork, Democrats as a group have been consistently voting against anyone who can be identified as having conservative views where Republicans are clearly voting based on the judicial qualifications of the nominee.
What had been suspected over those years and confirmed first during the vote for Chief Justice Roberts was solidly confirmed with the Alito vote. After all those years, the Republicans realized what I said they would after the Alito vote in 2006: the Democrats were never going to return the courtesy and professionalism that Republicans brought to the judicial nomination process. Offering it to them was a deliberate weakening of Republican position with no benefit whatsoever. Have a look at the only Supreme Court nomination since then – Sotomayor – and you can see the change.
So now the Democrats are seeing the fruits of their labors and they’ve decided they don’t much like them. Well, too bad. This is the environment they worked so hard to create so now they get to live in it like the rest of us. Don’t whine to the American people, Dems. You’re the people that made it this way. You want it fixed? Fix yourselves.