Sometimes the U.S. Senate reminds me of a third-grade class out on the playground.
“Tom hit me!”
“Yeah, well Trent hit me first!”
Of late, Senate Republicans have been complaining that recent rejections of President Bush’s nominees to the federal courts by Democrats are going to cause a backup of cases in the federal courts.
C’mon guys, what did you expect?
During the Clinton presidency, when the House and Senate were controlled by the GOP (from 1994 on), Republicans routinely rejected Clinton appointees to the federal courts.
The Republicans excuse was that Clinton’s appointees were too liberal, just as the Democrats now accuse Bush of trying to pack the courts with right-wingers.
It all comes down to politics.
In the current political climate, it will be almost impossible for anyone who is not a moderate to be appointed judge as long as one party controls the White House and the other party controls the Senate.
That being said, I am glad that the Judiciary Committee has been rejecting the extremists that Bush has been nominating.
The most recent was Priscilla Owen, a Texas Supreme Court justice whom Bush nominated to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
According to a New York Times article, dated Sept. 6, Democrats criticized Owen for favoring corporations over individuals and for improperly inserting her strong anti-abortion viewpoints into the rulings by the Texas Supreme Court.
Bush’s White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, has even criticized Owen.
Gonzales, who served on the Texas Supreme Court with Owen, said that she committed an “unconscionable act of judicial activism” when she tried to impose greater restrictions on the requirements for teenagers to get an abortion than the Texas Legislature required.
So far, the committee has approved 15 of Bush’s moderate appointees, so it is not the case that no new judges are entering our federal courthouses.
However, before the Republicans complain again about the judicial shortage, they should remember their own contribution to the problem.
While the Republicans were rejecting Clinton nominees during his presidency, they also lambasted him for using the Lincoln Bedroom as a fundraising tool.
Well, surprise, surprise.
Last month the Bush Administration released a list of 160 people who have made overnight stays at the White House.
Granted, unlike Clinton, Bush is not charging a flat donation to stay overnight at the White House.
However, many of Bush’s guests were big donors to his campaign and the Republican Party.
Bush has also refused to release information about the pardons that Clinton made at the end of his term.
Could Bush be planning ahead for his own round of sleazy pardons?
He would be in good company.
The first President Bush and President Reagan both made questionable pardons at the end of their terms.
Republican pundits seemed to have forgotten about this when they were screaming about the Marc Rich pardon.
But, like I said, that’s the politics of the playground.
Brian White can be reached at email@example.com