Friday, February 28, 2003

A Pox on Both Your Houses
That captures the way I feel about the current Estrada filibuster in the Senate. To be quite honest, I have not paid as much attention to the arguments of either side as much as I normally would. And I think part of the reason is that I am burned out on judicial confirmation battles. We've gone from Bork to Estrada, nearly sixteen years of petty politics, litmus tests, etc. How much more can any human bear? Rescue me before I fall into despair. (oops. sorry about the Police)

One can argue about who started the judicial hijinks, though it seemed to begin with Bork and continued with Thomas as the Democrats controlled the Senate. But during the Clinton administration the GOP controlled Senate did just as much "Borking" and blocking of qualified jurists. Both parties have engaged in judicial nomination hijinks and it is the country and our legal system that pay. There are far too many vacant benches in our Federal courts.

It's high time to stop playing the blame game and accept that it is the President's prerogative to nominate judges and the Senate's power to confirm.That is not to say the Senate should be a mere technicality in the process. For those candidates who lack judicial temperament, experience or other qualifications, the Senate is well within its power to reject their nomination. But to apply ideological litmus tests is beyond what the Senate ought to be doing.

One would hope that Presidents of both parties would only nominate those who are outstanding jurists. One would hope that Presidents would not nominate judicial activists of either stripe. (note to conservatives: don't even try to tell me that the Rehnquist Court does not contain activist judges, including the Chief)


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