The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Fred Thompson weighs in on the Democrats' burying of Circuit Court nominees
We saw this one coming, of course. Earlier this summer, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced to liberal lawyers at the American Constitution Society: “I will recommend to my colleagues that we should not confirm a Supreme Court nominee except in extraordinary circumstances.” Evidently, Sen. Schumer’s promise is now his party’s standard operating procedure for any and all Bush Administration judicial nominations.
From the beginning of his Administration, President Bush was committed to appointing judges who understand the appropriate limits on their role and seek to interpret the law as written by Congress — rather than revising it to achieve their own preferred goals. Too many Democrats, though, prefer judges who, under the guise of interpreting the Constitution, will impose their policy preferences on the citizenry.
These are two very different notions of the appropriate role of judges. On this issue, I stand with the President, along with the kinds of judges he appoints, like Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito (both of whom, I’d note are now facing political scrutiny from the Senate Judiciary Committee). The battle for the courts is one that liberals take seriously, and they use every legislative and procedural arrow in their quiver to win — even if it means tearing down good people to achieve their aims.
Judge Southwick’s a good example. His opponents do not question Judge Southwick’s qualifications to sit on the federal appeals court. Indeed, they cannot. Judge Southwick served on the Mississippi Court of Appeals from that court’s very inception in January 1995 through December 2006. Prior to serving as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Division, from 1989 to 1993, he was in a general civil private practice for 12 years. He’s taught law as an adjunct professor at Mississippi College School of Law since 1998. He’s also served his country in Iraq, fulfilling his National Guard duty as Deputy Staff Judge Advocate from August 2004 to July 2005, and then as Staff Judge Advocate until January 2006. Even the American Bar Association, which often treats conservative judicial nominees unfairly, unanimously gave Judge Southwick the institution’s highest possible rating.
So rather than assail Judge Southwick’s legal competency, Senate Democrats, led primarily by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), are instead attacking Judge Southwick’s character. Ignoring his volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity since 1993 and the time he spent as a board member and president of a local Jackson, Miss., charitable organization, Senate Democrats claim that Judge Southwick is racist and anti-homosexual.
The evidence against Judge Southwick? Two decisions he joined while sitting on the Mississippi Court of Appeals. Two, and only two, out of the more than 7,000 cases Judge Southwick heard, and in both of these instances, Judge Southwick had no hand in the writing of the rulings.
The Democrats have started a precedent--they were the first Party to filibuster the confirmation of Circuit Court judges in American history. In fact prior to this bunch, very few Supreme Court nominations became as contentious. That precedent is not likely to be kind to the next Democrat President (whenever that happens..). As I said last night, I do not think that the United States Congress has been this divided and this partisan since prior to the Civil War; I certainly have never seen anything like it in my lifetime...
The radicalized Democrat Congress seems bound and determined to force Constitutional showdowns with the President and against other actions byany other Republicans they can get their paws on. This isn't a moral, bipartisan Congress; this is a scorched earth, take no prisoners Congress. And one gets the feeling that two very powerful and highly stressed tectonic plates are coming together with the epicenter being the US Capitol building. The result may be uglier and far more catastrophic than any of us can imagine.