(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Judicial nominations The rightwingers are pulling out all the stops for the confirmation of Prof. McConnell, as evidenced by (to take just one example) the outrageously-titled op-ed to which Howard Bashman links. [note: by "right-wingers pulling out all the stops", I don't mean Howard; I mean the op-ed, and others like it.]. That piece, like so many others, urges that it is utterly inappropriate to take issues of ideology into account in order to oppose him. Now, I do recognize that some people say these things honestly; I think that Howard Bashman is undoubtedly one of them.

But plenty of people say these things dishonestly. Remember, for instance, that when President Clinton nominated an indisputably-brilliant law professor, Prof. William Fletcher, to a federal appellate position, the right wing delayed his confirmation for three years, and 75 percent of the Senate's Republicans voted against him. What was the basis for their objections? Ideology; they thought he was too liberal. How do we know this? We know it, for example, from this document -- a google html-version of a pdf document on the Senate's own site, describing the reasons that Prof. (now Judge) Fletcher's opponents in the Senate gave for opposing him. One of the main reasons, they said, was that he thought too highly of Justice Brennan, who was one of those dreaded liberals. Read this document, and then try to pretend that Republicans didn't "do" ideology in judicial confirmations.

Here's what I think about the confirmation of Prof. McConnell, on further reflection: If he proves his reputed brilliance and intellectual honesty by explicitly pointing out in strong words that the delay in, and opposition to, his confirmation based on ideological qualms is no worse than what Republicans did when they held most of the cards in the Senate -- then I will publicly announce my unqualified support for him. As the beneficiary of letters of support from liberal law professors, he has good reason by the same token to take such a principled stand even when it's somewhat galling to the pure politicians on "his side". Such a statement is, I think, a small thing to ask in order to prove his ability to see beyond politics; and it would go a long way towards bettering both the nomination and the confirmation processes. If he is truly an independent thinker, he should have no qualms about doing this little bit to raise the level of integrity in the debate over judicial nominees.

posted by sam 1:05 PM 0 comments


Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger


email: first name@last name dot net