July 09, 2007

By the numbers

Al Kamen of the Washington Post had a brief piece on Friday that points to the slowly shrinking possibility that President Bush will be able to successfully fill the remaining judicial vacancies as he enters the final 18 months of his term. Kamen considers the lessons of history, examining the numbers of successful judicial nominations and confirmations in the waning months of previous Presidencies.

With the Senate Judiciary Committee in the hands of Democrats now invoking the so-called 'Thurmond rule' as justification for blocking any nominee who does not represent the elusive 'consensus', it would be difficult for President Bush to successfully fight even for a full complement of nominees. But the small number of nominees currently pending makes it even more clear that the time window is closing on Bush's efforts to leave a strong legacy in the judiciary.

Of course, as Kamen points out,
"It's hard to predict with certainty what the Democrats will do in the waning Bush months. For example, the Democratic- controlled Senate in 1988, the last year of Bush I's term, confirmed a generous 66 of his nominees.

That was essentially because then-Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) seemed to have this notion that the judiciary should be above crass political calculations. He was confirming Bush I's nominees almost on the eve of the presidential election."
It seems that times have changed.