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Jewish World Review Nov. 18, 2003 / 23 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

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Hijacking the judicial appointment power

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | It is difficult to quantify the degree of misinformation, hypocrisy, malevolence and impropriety issuing from Democratic ranks in their shameless hijacking of the president's judicial appointment power.

Last week, the Democratic obstruction machine successfully filibustered another group of President Bush's highly qualified judicial nominees. What are these abusers of power so afraid of that they won't allow an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate?

This means that to get a Republican judge confirmed today you need the vote of 60 senators, which is nearly impossible when senators are voting on politics rather than judicial qualifications. The Democrats have now filibustered four extraordinarily capable judges: Priscilla Owen, William Pryor, Miguel Estrada and Charles Pickering, and have also prevented votes on Carolyn Kuhl and Janice Rogers Brown.

Plus, Democrats have said they intend to filibuster an additional six judges, making it 12 out of 41 Bush nominees to the federal appellate bench they will have blocked. So when Democrats say they've confirmed a great percentage of Bush nominees, they're talking about trial judges. It's appellate judges who have more impact on the course of the law — and the Democrats' confirmation rate on these judges is abysmal. And their obstruction is retarding the administration of justice (the 6th Circuit Court alone is 25 percent vacant, according to Senator Mitch McConnell).

Senate Judiciary Committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), revealed an enormous misunderstanding of her constitutional role in the judicial appointment process. She said, "I also deeply believe that the closeness of (the 2000) election and the fact that right-wing judges never really were part of this president's candidacy indicated to me that there is no mandate out there to skew the courts — and particularly the higher courts, appellate courts — to the right."


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Excuse me, Senator Feinstein, but mandates are irrelevant here. The president's constitutional right and duty to appoint judges does not depend on the amount or percentage of votes he received in the presidential election. What sophistry!

But since you brought it up, Senator, let me tell you what the president did say when he was campaigning for the presidency. "There will be no litmus test, except for whether a judge will strictly interpret the Constitution."

Bingo — right on the mark. A judge's political philosophy isn't the issue; his judicial philosophy and qualifications are what's important. Will a judge interpret the Constitution according to its original intent, or not?

Conservatives don't believe in appointing conservative ideologues to the bench, but judges who will honor their constitutional role of interpreting, not making laws. Even if those laws run counter to their ideology, as strict constructionists they will strive to refrain from the temptation to overstep their constitutional authority and remake the laws to conform to their policy preferences. It is your liberal ilk, Senator, who can't seem to grasp this concept, or who just don't have the character to obey their oaths of office.

Indeed we have a real-time case study of this phenomenon, and it happens to involve one of the appointees — Alabama Attorney General William Pryor — who have been filibustered by the Democrats.

Democrats had the audacity to lecture Bill Pryor about the likelihood that he would impose his own philosophy instead of following the Constitution if confirmed to the federal appellate bench. This is surreal. These are the same people who openly advocated the politicization of the courts because they couldn't otherwise be sure of implementing their policies through the democratic process.

Not only do they have no standing to complain about conservative judicial activists, they are dead wrong about William Pryor. Have you been following the news lately? This is the same William Pryor who has stated that he agreed with Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's legal position that the Ten Commandments display should have been permitted in the Alabama Supreme Court building.

Yet when Pryor was called upon to enforce the law against his friend Judge Moore, he carried out his duty — even though by doing so he incurred the wrath of many of his fellow Christian conservatives. As attorney general he followed what he believed to be his constitutional duty. How much more would he do so if serving as a federal appellate judge?

Democrats took the gloves off beginning with Judge Bork's nomination, and they've kept them off. Now one of them (Senator Kennedy) is even calling minority appointees "Neanderthals."

Once again, the unprincipled extremism of the "progressive" left is exposed for all to see.

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David Limbaugh, a columnist and attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Mo., is the author of, most recently, "Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR. ) Comment by clicking here.

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