Re­mak­ing the courts

The Democrats count on Repub­li­can re­luc­tance to re­sist

The Washington Times Daily - - Editorial -

Se­nate Repub­li­cans are stand­ing up, so far, to Pres­i­dent Obama’s at­tempt to pack the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the D.C. Cir­cuit with rad­i­cal ju­di­cial ac­tivists. A fil­i­buster blocked a vote on the con­fir­ma­tion of Cor­nelia Pil­lard last week and of Pa­tri­cia Mil­lett two weeks be­fore that. Pre­dictably, Se­nate Democrats de­clared that the forth­right Repub­li­can op­po­si­tion was another skir­mish in the “war on women.”

“It’s a well-worn card,” says Sen. Chuck Grass­ley, Iowa Repub­li­can, of the Demo­cratic strat­egy. “And they play it ev­ery time.” Well, not quite ev­ery time. When Repub­li­cans at­tempt to block con­fir­ma­tion of U.S. Dis­trict Judge Robert L. Wilkins, who is black, to the ap­pel­late bench, Democrats will play the race card.

Op­pos­ing women and blacks is said to be part of Repub­li­can war on two fronts. It’s not war when Democrats op­pose fe­male and black nom­i­nees. Forty-three Democrats voted un­suc­cess­fully to deny Ge­orge W. Bush’s nom­i­nee Jan­ice Rogers Brown to the ap­pel­late bench be­cause she was not woman enough, just as Clarence Thomas was judged by Democrats to be not black enough. The Democrats guard their race and gen­der for­mu­las as fiercely as Coca-Cola pro­tects the for­mula for the pop­u­lar soft drink.

Mr. Obama let slip the game at a pri­vate Demo­cratic Se­na­to­rial Cam­paign Com­mit­tee fundraiser early this month. “We are re­mak­ing the courts,” he told them. The claim was brazen enough to make the ghost of FDR, lurk­ing nearby, blush.

Repub­li­cans are rightly trou­bled by the prospect of re­mak­ing the courts by adding rad­i­cal ac­tivists to a bench that doesn’t even need new judges. Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell says that if more judges are added to the panel, “there wouldn’t be work enough to go around.” With some other fed­eral ap­peals courts hav­ing le­git­i­mate va­can­cies, at­ten­tion should be paid to “where judges are needed and where they’re not,” says Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Repub­li­can, “And this court demon­stra­bly doesn’t need new judges. It’s not any more com­pli­cated than that.”

Se­nate Repub­li­cans must re­sist their nat­u­ral in­stinct to ca­pit­u­late, as they did in July by en­abling the pres­i­dent’s left-wing nom­i­nees to take po­si­tions on the Na­tional La­bor Re­la­tions Board, the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency and Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau. Repub­li­cans re­treated in the face of Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid’s threat to de­ploy the “nu­clear op­tion” to change Se­nate rules on a party-line vote to strip the mi­nor­ity party’s fil­i­buster rights.

Democrats ar­gue there should be an up-or­down vote out of fair­ness, since no Demo­cratic se­na­tor has ex­pressed any reser­va­tions about th­ese nom­i­nees. All 55 would vote in lock­step to con­firm them no mat­ter how far out of the main­stream they might be. Such an ar­gu­ment could be worth con­sid­er­ing for a tem­po­rary ap­point­ment to a la­bor or en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy board. The stakes are higher for life­time ju­di­cial ap­point­ments. Repub­li­cans must take great care. The D.C. ap­peals court is of­ten a step to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.