November 26, 2006

Brownback Still Waiting

An Associated Press story today reports, in its opening sentence, that Sen. Brownback (R- Kan.) "is considering whether to stop blocking [liberal district court nominee Janet Neff] over concerns her appearance at a lesbian commitment ceremony betrayed her legal views on gay marriage." The story is based on comments Brownback made during an appearance this morning on ABC's ''This Week." But a read of the full article and a review of the show's transcript reveals there's nothing new here.

Sen. Brownback merely stated a virtual truism – "I don't think it necessarily does" – when asked whether attending the lesbian commitment ceremony of a next-door neighbor should "disqualify someone from the federal bench." Brownback then went on to repeat what he has previously said: "what I want to know is what does it do to her look at the law? What does she consider the law on same-sex marriage, on civil unions, and I'd want to consider that."

My point here is to set the record straight. I'm not rooting for Sen. Brownback to indefinitely maintain the hold on Neff. While I hope Neff will reverse her refusal to answer Brownback's written questions on a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, Republicans should stick to their principles and use holds in the pursuit of additional information, not as an indefinite delaying tactic. If it becomes clear that getting additional information from Neff is hopeless, the hold should be lifted and a floor vote should proceed with each senator taking into account Neff's refusal to answer Brownback's query.

On a more practical note, removing the hold on Neff would assumably result in Sens. Levin (D - Mich.) and Stabenow (D - Mich.) removing their hold on the two more conservative nominees to the Western District of Michigan.