June 20, 2008

Judge Conrad and Leahy the Lapdog

Anyone attending yesterday’s press conference for Fourth Circuit nominee Bob Conrad – sponsored by Sen. Specter and attended by Sens. Dole, Burr, Hatch, and Sessions – must have walked away shaking their head over Senator Leahy’s refusal to give Judge Conrad a hearing. Not only is Conrad exceptionally qualified – he received the ABA’s highest rating and was overwhelmingly confirmed by the Senate when nominated to be a district court judge and a U.S. Attorney – but he also has clearly demonstrated the compassion that Democrats say they want in a judge. Witness one of the speakers at yesterday’s press conference, a former gang member who said Judge Conrad “could have given me a life sentence. Instead he came to meet my mother and father." Conrad helped the young man attend college and find a job.

So why is Sen. Leahy refusing to give Judge Conrad a hearing? Leahy has charged that Conrad is “anti-Catholic,” but that’s all the more reason to hold a hearing in which Conrad can be confronted with the charge. Perhaps Leahy fears that he will look foolish if forced to repeat the charge. After all, as Quin Hillyer pointed out in the American Spectator yesterday, the charge is preposterous:
"[T]he nominee himself is Catholic, and … the incident to which the chairman referred involved the nominee writing a letter to the editor defending a traditional Catholic priest from insults leveled at the priest by a progressive Catholic nun. How a defense of a Catholic priest can be characterized as being 'anti-Catholic' is beyond me."
To understand why Leahy is blocking this terrific nominee, one need only look to the collection of ultra-liberal organizations that call the shots on which Bush nominees Senate Democrats will block. Richard Burr, one of Judge Conrad’s home state senators, summarized the problem in an interview with Media General:
"Burr, in an interview, said he believed Leahy was acquiescing to groups like [People for the American Way]. ‘Clearly, these outside groups have told Sen. Leahy, don't do this,’ he said.”
Curt Levey, the Committee for Justice’s Executive Director, made the same point in more detail when addressing yesterday’s press conference. Here are his remarks:

“Others here have already eloquently described why Judge Conrad is a great nominee, so I won’t try to match their eloquence on that point. It suffices to say that if Bob wasn’t such a solid nominee, Senate Democrats wouldn’t be blocking him. They don’t fear the mediocre nominees.

“And groups on the Left – like People for the American Way (PFAW), the ACLU, and the Alliance for Justice – who favor judicial activism wouldn’t be campaigning against Judge Conrad if they weren’t certain that he’ll refuse to be an activist judge and will refuse to rule for the most politically correct party when the law requires otherwise.

“Don’t doubt for a second that it’s the groups on the Left who are behind the obstruction of Conrad and George Bush’s other judicial nominees. All you need do is look at the Democratic Judiciary Committee memos disclosed in November 2003 that made it quite clear that organizations like PFAW were calling the shots on which judicial nominees Democratic senators would obstruct.

“These organizations accuse Judge Conrad of being out of the mainstream, but let me remind you of what these groups consider mainstream. These are the same groups that argue that anti-polygamy laws are unconstitutional. These are the same organizations that are fighting to delete ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance and to strike down laws protecting children from Internet pornography. These same groups are campaigning to give drivers licenses to illegal aliens, while fighting against the deportation of aliens convicted of crimes and virtually every aspect of the War on Terror.

“No wonder these groups love judicial activism. Their agenda is far too unpopular to be enacted any other way, as we saw most recently with the gay marriage decision in California and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Gitmo decision.

“Those of us here today worry about the high vacancy rate and judicial emergencies on the Fourth Circuit. But, as John McCain said last month, for the people opposing Bob Conrad, the only judicial emergency is the possible confirmation of a judge who
doesn't meet their own narrow test of ideology.

“When nominees like Judge Conrad fail that test, the charge by opponents is always the same. The nominee is accused of being insensitive to women, minorities, and civil rights in general. In this case, Sen. Leahy also threw in the anti-Catholic charge.

“But if there’s any bigotry here, it’s on the part of Senate Democrats and their allies on the Left. I’m talking about their consistent bias against white male nominees from the South, like Judge Conrad. Except for the two instances in which a Democratic senator picked the nominee, every time President Bush nominated a southern white male to the appeals courts – 11 times in all -- Senate Democrats tried to obstruct the
nomination. And each time they’ve subjected the nominee to the same personal attacks that exploit the worst stereotypes about southerners.

“For a party that’s supposedly trying to win over Reagan Democrats and outherners, this blatant bigotry against southern white men doesn’t seem like a great strategy. But I guess we’ll see what the voters have to say about that.”

For a further discussion of the agendas of the groups opposing Judge Conrad, see here.

See also:
Sens. Burr and Dole on Judge Conrad.
Sen. Hatch on Judge Conrad.