June 18, 2009

A Tale of Two Clubs

As a followup to Emily's post below, Jeffrey Lord recalls Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy's 2002 reaction to Bush Third Circuit Court nominee D. Brooks Smith's former membership in an all-male fishing club in Pennsylvania. 

"He could fish -- but wasn't one to frequent Spruce Creek and stand around mid-stream rod in hand. His membership was sentimental. Asked at his 1988 confirmation hearing if he would work to end the all-male gender membership barrier, Smith promised he would do so. He did just that, trying and failing several times to get the club to admit women as members (they were already allowed as wives or guests.) In 1999, between his infrequent visits with his wife and consistent rebuffs from the club leaders about allowing women in as members, Smith finally quit.

By 2002, as Leahy, Schumer, and others were busy colluding behind the scenes with left-wing special interest groups to savage Bush judicial nominees, Smith's now ex-membership became a target. Submitting his written questions to Smith, Schumer's 6th question concerned Spruce Creek. It had no sooner arrived on Smith's desk than, mysteriously, a corresponding attack from the National Organization for Women appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. While it never mentioned Schumer's question to Smith, the attack tracked with the points raised in Schumer's question. When this was noted by a Smith supporter in a response, NOW denied any collusion, then proceeded to comment on the substance of Schumer's question -- which it had previously claimed not to have seen and which was still sitting atop the "privacy" of Smith's desk.

The attack was beaten back to considerable degree because of an interesting fact neither Leahy nor Schumer knew. On the wall of the club was a photograph of Marine One landing at Spruce Creek. That would be the official helicopter of the President of the United States. The president in question was a Spruce Creek devotee -- Jimmy Carter. Not only was the Democratic president responsible for appointing every federal judge in the country between 1977 and January of 1981 a frequent visitor to what Leahy and Schumer were painting as a sewer of gender discrimination, he was still coming there long after his White House days were over."

Jimmy Carter's presence at the club mattered little as Democrat after Democrat took to disparaging the club and Smith's membership therein.  Ted Kennedy even echoed the charge that it violated Canon 2c addressed below when he stated that, "if the Spruce Creek Club can be used for business purposes, its exclusion of women would violate the Judicial Code of Conduct."  The fishing club was not used for business purposes.  On the contrary, according to a club official, "the whole point of the Club is to get away from business."  The Belizean Grove as described by its website is "a constellation of influential women who are key decision makers in the profit, nonprofit and social sectors; who build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships in order to both take charge of their own destinies and help others to do the same."  So, in short it is a club precisely for business purposes.

Where are Senator Leahy and his Democratic colleagues now? 

Bueller... Bueller... Bueller...

For what it is worth I don't care that Judge Sotomayor belonged to an all women's club.  Maybe it violates Canon 2c and maybe it doesn't.  But that is not the greater point.  As was seen with Sotomayor's widely repeated "wise latina" remarks, the Democrats are rank hypocrites whose desire to play on identity and grievance politics often trumps rationality.  It also shows the party's propensity to overreact and blow things out of proportion.  Judge Smith's membership in a fishing club was enough for some to vote No on his nomination, but when the tables are turned, nothing but silence.