October 07, 2008

Bush: “Judges Matter to Every American”

Yesterday, President Bush gave a speech in Cincinnati where he described obstructions his nominees have faced from Democrats over the course of his presidency. He used the example of Miguel Estrada to demonstrate how the Advice and Consent Clause of the Constitution has been “subjected to serious abuse.” Bush also offered a challenge to Democrats: “if [they] truly seek a more productive and cooperative relationship in Washington, then they have a perfect opportunity to prove it by giving these nominees the up-or-down vote they deserve [during the upcoming lame duck session]."

Cited in a Washington Post article is the Democrat response:
“Democrats expressed surprise that Bush would revive such allegations, arguing that the Senate has confirmed more of Bush's nominees in the past two years than were approved under the previous six years of GOP control.
The White House says 324 of 376 federal court nominees have been confirmed during Bush's tenure, with 34 current vacancies. By comparison, Democrats say, there were 84 judicial openings at the end of Bill Clinton's presidency.”

It is unclear which six years the Democrats are referring to. Presumably they mean the last six years of Republican Senate control – the 106th Congress (1999-00), 108th Congress (2003-04), and 109th Congress (2005-06)– in which case their statements are simply misleading, if at all correct. These Republican-controlled Senates had 57, 85, and 35 district court confirmations, and 15, 18, and 16 appeals court confirmations, respectively. This means that, even when generously interpreted to imply individual GOP-controlled Senates, not only were the total confirmations greater for the 106th and 108th Congresses, but they handily outstripped the 58 District Court and 10 Appeals Court judges of the Democrat-controlled 110th Congress.

Some aggregate figures deserve attention also. During Reagan a total of 383 federal judges were confirmed. Under Clinton, that dropped slightly to 377. However, during the Bush administration, only 326 federal judges have been put on the bench. Judicial openings or not, the numbers do not lie.