The voters sent a clear message last week that they do not want the far right of the Republican Party calling the shots in Washington. But President Bush has ignored the message, resubmitting a group of archconservative, underqualified judicial nominees that Senate Democrats have already said are unacceptable. With the Democrats about to take control of the Senate, it is highly unlikely that these men will be confirmed. But the renominations suggest that when it comes to filling judgeships, Mr. Bush is still not looking for either excellence or common ground.Remember, this is after Bush made a big deal about "bipartisanship" and working with the Democrats after they won both houses of Congress. Thing is, I don't think anyone asked him to define precisely what he meant by "bipartisanship." I can only conclude that he would have said: "Bipartisanship is Democrats voting for what I want." So from his perspective, he's trying to reach out to the Democrats by offering them a hearty dose of bipartisanship right off the bat. Surely it would be churlish of them to refuse such a generous opportunity.
The four most controversial nominees that President Bush resubmitted are ideological in the extreme. William Myers III, a longtime lobbyist for mining and timber interests, would no doubt use his position on the San Francisco-based United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to gut environmental laws. William Haynes II, who helped develop the administration’s torture and “enemy combatant” policies as the top lawyer for the Pentagon, could be counted on to undermine both civil liberties and reasonable limits on executive power.
Terrence Boyle, a district court judge in North Carolina and a former aide to Senator Jesse Helms, has a long record of insensitivity to victims of race and disability discrimination. He would be able to pull the law in the wrong direction in these areas if he became an appeals court judge. Michael Wallace, a former lawyer for Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, has a bad civil rights record, including arguing in favor of letting Bob Jones University, which discriminated on the basis of race, keep its tax-exempt status.
....Mr. Wallace is the very rare appeals court nominee to receive a unanimous “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association.
President Bush’s decision to resubmit these names could be a final sop to his far-right base. Perhaps, once this slate fails one more time, he will make more reasonable choices. Mr. Bush may have no other choice, if he wants to get any nominees confirmed in the next two years. Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, has said that “the days of hard-right judges” are over, and when Democrats take over in the Senate, he will be in a position to see that they are.
Friday, November 17, 2006
NYT on Dubya's peculiar definition of "bipartisanship":