Monday, July 19, 2004

Judge Not?

There's one issue that we've heard the Bushinistas whine about, over and over and over, during the past four years: blocking of judicial nominees. In the just the past week, Dubya has made the issue a bit of a campaign issue at several stops. While on the stump in Michigan, he surrounded himself with 6 nominees awaiting confirmation, and cried "judicial emergency". He then turned around and did the same thing in North Carolina - "judicial emergency", was Bush's primal political scream (flanked, of course, by another 3 judicial nominees awaiting confirmation).

And at both stops, he decried John Edwards for "holding up the nominations". (Senators in the states where the vacancies exist hold a certain amount of sway on recommending nominees through the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Edwards sits.)

But what's the reality? First, listen to this report from NPR's Morning Edition of 7/19/04 to hear how John Edwards has worked very closely with junior North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole(R) to break the (perception of a) logjam and move awaiting nominations through the confirmation process. Then, take a look at this article from Moving Ideas:

Conservative accusations of unwarranted Democratic stalling ring particularly hollow in light of the Republican record on judicial confirmations during President Clinton's terms in office. The refusal and delay of hearings on dozens of former President Clinton's nominees to federal courts by the Republican-led Senate from 1995 to 2000 exacerbated a widespread shortage of federal judges.

In fact, in the last five years of the Clinton presidency, Republicans blocked 20% of the nominees submitted to the Senate. In President Bush's first three years, only 3.4% of judicial nominees have been rejected. Already, the Senate has confirmed thirty Bush circuit court nominees—this is a greater number than President Clinton was allowed in his two full terms in office.

Overall judicial vacancies have decreased since the current President took office, from a rate of 9.9% to the current 4.6%. Still, Administration officials and Republican Senators bemoan that six of the President's nominees have not received an 'up or down vote' from the full Senate, while Democrats counter that the blocked nominees are dangerous right-wing ideologues whose jurisprudential history falls much too far out of the mainstream.
So, the next time you hear Bush or a Joe Goebbels protégé over at Fox News whining about "Democrats holding up the confirmation process of federal judges", spray them with a little political bullshit repellant:

The Trvth.