Unprecedented betrayal and obstruction

By Thomas Jipping

“I defy anyone to come up with a better record” on judicial confirmations than the current Democrat-led Senate, said Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

OK, Mr. Leader, here goes.

There was the Republican Senate under President Clinton, when judicial vacancies averaged 70, compared to 95 in the current Democrat Senate under President Bush. How’s that?

Or the Senate during the first two Clinton years which confirmed 128 judges, compared to just 80 during the first two Bush years. Democrats ran the Senate then too, showing just how partisan they are today.

And there’s the Senate at the start of the Clinton, or the first Bush, or the Reagan administrations. Take your pick. The Senate confirmed those presidents’ first batch of appeals court nominees in an average of 81 days. Today, after 520 days, two-thirds of President Bush’s first nominees are still stuck in the Judiciary Committee.

Or take the Senate during the first two years of those three previous administrations. The Senate confirmed an average of 94 percent of their nominees, compared to just 51 percent of President Bush’s nominees. Not even close.

Oh, let’s see. There’s the Senate under Republican leadership when the Judiciary Committee never voted down a single Clinton nominee. Even Ronnie White, the only nominee defeated by the full Senate, made it out of the committee. The current Democrat-led committee has already voted down two Bush nominees, refusing to let the full Senate even take a vote.

And there’s the Senate at any time, ever, when the Judiciary Committee never before voted down a nominee who had received a unanimous “well qualified” rating from the American Bar Association. The current Senate has already done that, even though the Democrats who run it say the American Bar Association’s rating is the “gold standard” for evaluating nominees.

Hmmm, so many to choose from. There’s the Senate during the three previous administrations, which confirmed an average of 92 percent of those presidents’ appeals court nominees. The current Senate – Sen. Daschle’s Senate – has confirmed just 44 percent of President Bush’s appeals-court picks. Again, not even close.

Shall I go on? Why not. There’s the Senate under Republican leadership when appeals-court vacancies averaged 20 during the Clinton years, compared to the current Democrat Senate, which has maintained a vacancy rate 50 percent higher.

Please, Sen. Daschle, stop me whenever you finally get the point. There’s the Senate under Republican control that never violated Senate rules the way Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., did on Oct. 8. Those rules require that when a nominee has been scheduled for a vote and that vote is postponed, the committee must vote the next business meeting. The committee was scheduled to vote on appeals-court nominee Dennis Shedd on Oct. 3, Sen. Leahy postponed it, and then still yanked it off the agenda for the Oct. 8 meeting.

That petty little partisan stunt showed just what Senate Democrats – at the command of their leftist puppet-masters – will do to control the judiciary. Anything, that’s what. Judge Shedd, on the federal district-court bench in South Carolina for a dozen years, is a former Judiciary Committee chief counsel and staff director under then-Chairman Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C. Rated well qualified by the ABA, he was nominated on May 9, 2001 – part of that group of nominees held captive now for 76 days longer than the hostages were in Iran.

Sen. Leahy not only broke Senate rules to again block a vote on Judge Shedd, but he broke public (and no doubt private) promises to Sen. Thurmond, who is retiring after nearly a half-century of service, that the committee would vote on the Shedd nomination this year. As Sen. Thurmond said on the Senate floor Oct. 9, “In 48 years in the Senate, I have never been treated in such a manner.”

As if there’s any reason to break Senate rules, Democrats say the Shedd nomination was controversial and would have taken too long to debate at the Oct. 8 meeting. That problem could have been avoided by holding a hearing and vote any time in, oh, the last 500 days or so. The fact is that leftist groups and Democrat senators are tag teaming like this all the time. The groups trump up fake “concerns” and “controversy” and the senators first wring, then throw up, their hands, saying there’s just too much hullabaloo to move a nomination further or faster.

Let’s see, fewer confirmations, higher vacancies, unprecedented committee rejections, broken promises, broken tradition, broken Senate rules and broken obstruction records. I defy anyone, even Sen. Daschle, to come up with a worse record.