Obama’s last-ditch ap­point­ments

Harry Reid moves to stack the ju­di­ciary

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion -

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid is up to his dirty po­lit­i­cal tricks. He’s sit­ting on the jobs bill that passed the House last week with 390 votes and has the pres­i­dent’s en­dorse­ment. In­stead of tak­ing it up, the Ne­vada Demo­crat an­nounced on Mon­day he will force votes this week on 17 of Pres­i­dent Obama’s life­time ju­di­cial nom­i­nees. Mr. Reid is man­u­fac­tur­ing this fight to paint Repub­li­cans as ob­struc­tion­ists in a tight elec­tion year.

There’s no back­log of nom­i­na­tions to com­plain about, as the Se­nate has ap­proved seven judges so far this year. The pres­i­dent bears the most blame for any re­main­ing va­can­cies, hav­ing only nom­i­nated 39 to fill 83 cur­rently empty slots. In mid-fe­bru­ary, Mr. Reid fumed that the GOP had blocked some of Mr. Obama’s non­ju­di­cial nom­i­nees, threat­en­ing to “rec­om­mend to the pres­i­dent he re­cess ap­point all these peo­ple, ev­ery one of them.”

Repub­li­cans are still up­set that Mr. Obama in Jan­uary in­stalled a new Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau chief and mem­bers to the Na­tional La­bor Re­la­tions Board with­out Se­nate ap­proval. “When he made a re­cess ap­point­ment when the Se­nate didn’t con­sider it­self in re­cess, that changed the game,” fresh­man Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Re­pub­li­can, told The Washington Times on Mon­day. The Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee mem­ber has led the protest against more White House nom­i­nees. “Ours is not a gov­ern­ment of one. This was a dan­ger­ous prece­dent, and we need to op­pose it,” he ex­plained. Mr. Lee told us he will vote against all ap­point­ments in com­mit­tee and on the floor un­til the pres­i­dent re­scinds the “re­cess” nom­i­nees and stops mak­ing them.

Only Sen. Jim Demint joined Mr. Lee in op­pos­ing five of the ju­di­cial nom­i­na­tion votes this year. “Pres­i­dent Obama has shown a com­plete dis­dain for the peo­ple’s elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives and our duty to ad­vise and con­sent on nom­i­na­tions,” the South Carolina Re­pub­li­can told The Washington Times. “Un­less he re­vokes his un­prece­dented re­cess ap­point­ments that de­fied the con­sti­tu­tional role of Congress, I don’t in­tend to sup­port any of his ju­di­cial nom­i­nees this year.”

Mr. Reid’s decision this week to in­voke clo­ture has raised the ire of many more in the Re­pub­li­can cau­cus. Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Mitch Mccon­nell is look­ing for ways to protest the “re­cess” ap­point­ments. The Ken­tucky Re­pub­li­can has been gath­er­ing sup­port in his con­fer­ence for a re­sponse, which may be re­flected in this week’s vote, as well as look­ing for the right law­suit to join an am­i­cus brief to chal­lenge the va­lid­ity of the ear­lier non­re­cess “re­cess” nom­i­nees. Se­nate Repub­li­cans are also con­sid­er­ing in­vok­ing the Thur­mond Rule early to stop all Mr. Obama’s life­time ap­point­ments to the bench. The rule stops the Se­nate from mov­ing on nom­i­nees in the last six months of a pres­i­dent’s term.

Mr. Lee is glad his col­leagues are step­ping up to fight this lat­est move. “The pres­i­dent’s un­con­sti­tu­tional abuse of his re­cess ap­point­ment power rep­re­sents a threat to the in­sti­tu­tion,” said Mr. Lee. “It’s not par­ti­san. It’s not Demo­crat or Re­pub­li­can.” While the GOP shouldn’t fall into Mr. Reid’s ob­struc­tion­ist trap, it should do what­ever pos­si­ble to check the pres­i­dent’s out­sized pow­ers.

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