May 05, 2006

Simply Unacceptable

Byron York suggests in today's National Review Online that Senate Republicans are willing to leave some Courts of Appeal nominees – such as William Myers and William Haynes – "in the lurch" in order to avoid a confrontation with their Democratic colleagues over a filibuster. It is not clear why Republicans would want to avoid a fight that they would likely win and that would surely energize their base. But putting that aside, Senate Republicans need to understand that leaving some nominees in the lurch is simply unacceptable to the Republican base, as well as offensive to anyone who desires a fair confirmation process. Democrats' past use of the filibuster to block Bush's judicial nominees – despite their majority support in the Senate – was unprecedented and repugnant and handing the same result to the Democrats on a silver platter – saving them the political costs of actually implementing a filibuster – is every bit as unacceptable.

That is not to say that all of the President's judicial nominees must be confirmed. Individual Republican senators should vote against any nominee they believe is less than qualified, and a handful of Republican votes against a nominee is enough to defeat that nominee on the Senate floor. But ALL of the President's nominees deserve an up or down vote on the floor. In fact, William Myers is already on the floor and lack of political will is the only thing stopping the Republican leadership from scheduling an up or down vote on him.

York reports that a key Senate Republican leadership aide told him recently that "We are simply committed to making the judicial nomination process work as intended – with every qualified nominee with majority support getting an up or down vote." Let's hope this statement reflects the leadership's intentions more accurately than York's suspicions.