(continued from the previous post)
[T]he problem is how to keep a judgeship candidate's opinions hidden until he or she is safely confirmed for a lifetime appointment, and the phony issue of "prejudging" is a strategy for doing that.
...Judgeship nominations bring out the hypocrite in politicians of both parties, but the Republican hypocrisy here is especially impressive. When Bill Clinton was appointing judges, the senior Judiciary Committee Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch, called for "more diligent and extensive . . . questioning of nominees' jurisprudential views." Now Hatch says Democrats have no right to demand any such thing. President Bush fired the American Bar Association as official auditor of judicial nominations because the ABA gave some Republican nominees a lousy grade. Now Hatch cites the ABA's judgment as "the gold standard" because it unofficially gave Estrada a high grade.
The seat Republicans want to give Estrada is open only because Republicans successfully blocked a Clinton nominee. Two Clinton nominations to the D.C. Circuit were blocked because Republicans said the circuit had too many judges already. Now Bush has sent nominations for both those seats. Hatch and others accuse Democrats of being anti-Hispanic for opposing Estrada. With 42 circuit court vacancies to fill, Estrada is the only Hispanic Bush has nominated. Clinton nominated 11, three of whom the Republicans blocked.
Democratic Senators have begun a filibuster to block Estrada's appointment, and good on them, I say. It's quite simple, really...when Bush appoints conservative justices whose opinion isn't too far outside the mainstream--and who don't attempt to conceal their judicial philosophy--they generally get confirmed. The Senate's role is to advise and consent, not rubber-stamp every ideological nominee to a lifetime appointment.