March 03, 2009

Senate Republicans Engage Obama on Judges

The entire Senate Republican caucus wrote President Obama a letter yesterday outlining two steps that he can take to make the judicial process less acrimonious: 1) follow Bush's bipartisan example by nominating a group of Bush holdover nominees; 2) consult home state senators on nominees from their state.

The first suggestion has been almost unanimously recommended by the major newspapers in this country and has been documented on this site here and here.  Obama has preached his desire for bipartisanship throughout the campaign and the early days of his presidency.  The stimulus plan did not receive the level of bipartisanship that he had hoped.  Re-nominating some of the Bush holdover nominees is sure to win unanimous Republican and likely substantial Democratic support.  Bush's judicial nominees became ensnared in partisan gamesmanship.  Hopefully President Obama wants to start on strong bipartisan footing.

The second suggestion appears to be a direct response to Patrick Leahy's coyness on the "blue slip" policy.  The "blue slip" policy is one of the Republicans only methods to thwart a potential judicial nominee and they don't seem to be taking it lightly.  They are even threatening to use the filibuster to ensure that the policy stays in place.  
"Regretfully, if we are not consulted on, and approve of, a nominee from our states, the Republican Conference will be unable to support moving forward on that nominee."
Republicans mounted little opposition to Obama's DOJ nominations.  The thought was that they were saving what little ammo they had for judicial nominations.  It appears to be true.

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