The Washington Post delivers a characteristically disingenuous editorial on “ending the Senate impasse.” The Post’s thesis is that the Republicans are trying to engineer a one-sided solution to the confirmation stalemate that ignores the fact that they blocked some Clinton nominees through means other than the filibuster. But the Post fails to acknowledge that the Republicans have offered a compromise that would put an end to all methods of obstructing an up-or-down vote, not just the filibuster. The Post also fails to acknowledge that, although the Republicans had a majority in the Senate for most of the Clinton presidency, the Senate confirmed a higher percentage of Clinton’s court of appeals nominees than it has Bush nominees.
The Post’s disingenuousness doesn’t stop there. It refers to the good old days when both Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg easily were confirmed. But Scalia’s confirmation was not the rule with respect to the way Democrats dealt with conservative nominees to the Supreme Court The Democrats refused to confirm two Nixon nominees (Haynsworth and Carswell) and one Reagan appointee (Bork). And the dominant liberal wing of the party fought tooth and nail (actually dirtier than that) against Justice Thomas. Meanwhile, the Republicans voted pretty much without a murmur for every liberal Supreme Court nominee (some of whom their presidents nominated). Democrats like to cite the fate of Lyndon Johnson crony Abe Fortas. But despite his liberlism, Fortas became a Justice with no difficulty. It was only after clear evidence of impropriety on his part came to light that Republicans balked at Fortas’ elevation to Chief Justice. Shortly thereafter, Fortas resigned from the Court, and his old law firm (in which he had been a name partner) wouldn’t take him back.
The Post ignores all of this history. It knows the Democrats have led the way in scorched earth confirmation tactics, but wants to insist that the Republicans are just as bad. Thus, we read that “Mr. Bush shares a good deal of culpability for the present impasse.” Why? The Post doesn’t say. Bush has nominated a mixture of conservative and moderate candidates, reflecting where he stands politically, and insisted that they be voted upon. This is what all presidents do, and what they should do.
The Post waits until the end of the editorial to unveil its solution. If the rules are to be reformed, the reform shouldn’t become effective until January 2009. This way, the Democrats will have a chance to regain power before a new Supreme Court Justice is confirmed (unless Bush nominates someone the Democrats like). And this way, the minority party similarly will have the power to veto President Bush’s appellate nominees for essentially his entire second term. The Post can’t be serious.
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