A judgeship is a terrible thing to waste

Ed Whelan, in the March 27 issue of the Weekly Standard, writes: “After his remarkable success in winning the confirmations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, President Bush must return to the less glamarous work of filling vacancies on the lower courts.” Unfortunately, Whelan adds, this work is quite difficult due, in part, to the great influence that home-state senators believe themselves entitled to exert over lower-court nominations. Indeed, Whelan argues persuasively that

For all the attention given to the Democratic filibuster of judicial nominees in recent years, the greater impediment to President Bush’s ability to appoint high-quality practitioners of judicial restraint to the federal district and appellate courts comes from obscure Senate practices that enjoy widespread bipartisan support from senators. These practices exist because they serve the narrow interests of individual senators. They are, in short, perquisites of membership in the club known as the United States Senate.

Whelan also shows that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Specter has departed from the policy used by former chairmen Kennedy, Biden, and Hatch when dealing with a president of their own party, by giving the out-of-power party (here the Democrats) enhanced rights to block judicial nominees.

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