Byron York, for National Review

Byron York, for National Review Online warns that Senate Democrats may be about to kill another Bush judicial nominee, Michael McConnell. A law professor at the University of Utah, McConnell was nominated 15 months ago to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which sits in Denver. I have heard McConnell speak at Federalist Society meetings. He struck me as thoughtful, scholarly and fair-minded. Moreover, he strikes leading liberal professors the same way. According to York, the liberal Cass Sunstein wrote a letter on McConnell’s behalf describing him as “judicious” and “genuinely willing to think and go where the best arguments take him.” And the ultra liberal Laurence Tribe rated McConnell as “among the nation’s most distinguished constitutional scholars” and found that he exhibits “openness to opposing views and a gentleness with others that commends him as someone likely to display an ideal judicial temperament.”
I’m sure you have guessed by now why, despite these virtues, the usual liberal suspects find that McConnell just won’t do. It’s his views on Roe v. Wade, the decision that overturned state laws banning abortion. McConnell called the reasoning behind that ruling “an embarrassment to those who take constitutional law seriously.” As Sunstein notes, however, “many lawyers, on the left as well as the right, question Roe v. Wade.” This is probably an understatement. Roe was decided when I was at law school. I couldn’t find anyone on the overwhelmingly liberal faculty at Stanford who thought the Court’s legal reasoning was sound. Nonetheless, McConnell’s hardly controversial view is enough to place his nomination in jeopardy, although York predicts that McConnell will scrape through. With hearings scheduled, at last, for next week we should find out soon.


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