June 26, 2008

Keisler Praised by IG, Obstructed by Dems

Has Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy no shame when it comes to judicial nominees? We’ll find out in the coming months by watching whether he continues to deny a committee vote to D.C. Circuit nominee Peter Keisler, a former Assistant Attorney General at the Justice Department. Never mind that Keisler was nominated to the D.C. Circuit two years ago and testified to rave reviews at his Judiciary Committee hearing in August 2006. Sadly, we’ve become all too accustomed to such outrageous delays since Senate Democrats announced plans to block judicial nominees for purely ideological reasons back in 2001.

The real test for whether the shame center in Leahy’s brain is still functioning is whether Leahy continues to block Keisler now that the former Assistant Attorney General has been praised by the DOJ Inspector General’s report for standing up to the very politicization of the Department that Leahy has spent the last year denouncing. Stay tuned as we wait to see whether Sen. Leahy will sink to a new low. For now, here are some thoughts on Peter Keisler and the IG’s report from Sen. Jon Kyl at today’s Judiciary Committee meeting and Collin Levy in today’s edition of WSJ.com's Political Diary.

Senator Kyl (seconded by Sen. Specter):
“According to the [Inspector General’s] report I’m quoting, ‘a few DOJ political employees objected to the apparent use of political or ideological considerations in the hiring process, such as Assistant Attorney’s General Peter Keisler and Aileen O’Connor, and they should be credited for raising their concerns.’ I note this with some bit of irony because … one of the things that [Keisler] said in questioning this [hiring] practice and procedure was that … it must be motivated by politics … It seems to me that one could characterize opposition to Peter Keisler in the same way, and given the fact that his nomination has been pending now for almost 2 years, and there is still plenty of time to confirm his nomination, I would hope that my colleagues who have heretofore opposed that would reconsider in the light of the IG report”
Collin Levy, Political Diary:
“Democrats are happily trumpeting the recent report from the Justice Department's Inspector General over alleged political interference in hiring decisions by the Bush Administration. … In the report, Mr. Keisler comes across as a model of even-handedness. … In particular, Mr. Keisler defended the qualifications of a Harvard law school grad whose resume listed a job with Planned Parenthood. Mmmm, that doesn't sound like the right-wing zealotry that Senate Democrats claim to detect … Senate Democrats routinely criticize politicization of the Judiciary. In Mr. Keisler, though, they've spent two years punishing a man who actually fought politicization even when the spotlight was elsewhere.”