Obama takes the low road

August 18, 2008 at 6:10 am

The Wall Street Journal takes Obama to task for his nasty slur against Justice Clarence Thomas:

Barack Obama likes to portray himself as a centrist politician who wants to unite the country, but occasionally his postpartisan mask slips. That was the case at Saturday night’s Saddleback Church forum, when Mr. Obama chose to demean Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Pastor Rick Warren asked each Presidential candidate which Justices he would not have nominated. Mr. McCain said, “with all due respect” the four most liberal sitting Justices because of his different judicial philosophy.

[Barack Obama]

Mr. Obama took a lower road, replying first that “that’s a good one,” and then adding that “I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas. I don’t think that he, I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation. Setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretation of a lot of the Constitution.” The Democrat added that he also wouldn’t have appointed Antonin Scalia, and perhaps not John Roberts, though he assured the audience that at least they were smart enough for the job.

So let’s see. By the time he was nominated, Clarence Thomas had worked in the Missouri Attorney General’s office, served as an Assistant Secretary of Education, run the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and sat for a year on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation’s second most prominent court. Since his “elevation” to the High Court in 1991, he has also shown himself to be a principled and scholarly jurist.

Meanwhile, as he bids to be America’s Commander in Chief, Mr. Obama isn’t yet four years out of the Illinois state Senate, has never held a hearing of note of his U.S. Senate subcommittee, and had an unremarkable record as both a “community organizer” and law school lecturer. Justice Thomas’s judicial credentials compare favorably to Mr. Obama’s Presidential résumé by any measure. And when it comes to rising from difficult circumstances, Justice Thomas’s rural Georgian upbringing makes Mr. Obama’s story look like easy street.

Even more troubling is what the Illinois Democrat’s answer betrays about his political habits of mind. Asked a question he didn’t expect at a rare unscripted event, the rookie candidate didn’t merely say he disagreed with Justice Thomas. Instead, he instinctively reverted to the leftwing cliché that the Court’s black conservative isn’t up to the job while his white conservative colleagues are.

So much for civility in politics and bringing people together. And no wonder Mr. Obama’s advisers have refused invitations for more such open forums, preferring to keep him in front of a teleprompter, where he won’t let slip what he really believes.

Judicial activism

December 4, 2006 at 8:24 am

This AP report reminds conservatives what is at stake when it comes to judicial nominations and confirmations:

Justice Stephen G. Breyer says the Supreme Court must promote the political rights of minorities and look beyond the Constitution’s text when necessary to ensure that “no one gets too powerful.”

Breyer, a Clinton appointee who has brokered many of the high court’s 5-4 rulings, spoke in a televised interview that aired one day before justices hear a key case on race in schools. He said judges must consider the practical impact of a decision to ensure democratic participation.

“We’re the boundary patrol,” Breyer said, reiterating themes in his 2005 book that argue in favor of race preferences in university admissions because they would lead to diverse workplaces and leadership.

Chuck Schumer gets it

November 15, 2006 at 11:38 am

The New York Observer reports:

More than the inability to influence Iraq policy or the President’s tax cuts, Chuck Schumer says that the single greatest failure of the Democrats as an opposition party was allowing Samuel Alito to join the Supreme Court.

“Judges are the most important,” said Mr. Schumer, who orchestrated the implausible Democratic takeover of the Senate last week. “One more justice would have made it a 5-4 conservative, hard-right majority for a long time. That won’t happen.”

From now on, all the President’s judicial appointments will need to meet the requirements of Mr. Schumer, the Park Slope power broker who has happily accepted the mantle of chief architect for the Democrats’ effort to build a majority for the 2008 elections and beyond.

Unfortunately, this is indeed what was lost when Republicans could not hold on to the Senate. Schumer is no idiot. He understand perhaps better than anyone in his party that the liberal agenda will die without activist liberal judges. His threat to veto the next Alito is not idle and should Bush get the opportunity to nominate another conservative to the court, it will take a minor miracle to overcome the Senate’s new liberal overlords.

Here is a scarier scenario than a liberal filibuster: the White House, recognizing this threat, could decide to capitulate and nominate a liberal. Not only would that eviscerate the progress conservatives have made with the Supreme Court, it would irreparably damage the Republican coalition for decades to come.

And don’t think Schumer doesn’t know all of this.

More on the Gang of 14

September 25, 2006 at 10:19 am

Lastango over at Daily Pundit takes issue with my most recent Townhall column in which I report on the Gang of 14’s latest activity in the Senate. The tone of my column was clearly negative in reference to the Gang’s grandstanding. Here is a sample:

Also at issue is the application of the Geneva Conventions. The President argues that American professionals tasked with interrogating terrorists need clarification about the overly broad Geneva Conventions in order to extract information that could help avert attacks on the homeland. The tactics used to extract this information, argues the president, must be validated by Congress or else interrogators will not be able to move forward with interrogations that, according to a new ABC news report, have already helped avert as many as 12 terrorist attacks against the United States.

The Gang plus three says no. McCain, in a statement on his Website, made clear that he thinks the president’s approach “weakens” the Geneva Conventions while setting “an example to other countries, with less respect for basic human rights, that they could issue their own legislative ‘reinterpretations.’”

But McCain’s approach assumes our enemy has even some remote standard of moral decency and respect for the Geneva Conventions. Surely an enemy that routinely kills innocents while beheading kidnapped victims on camera cares nothing for such notions. That does not mean that America should also disregard the Geneva Conventions; the administration is not arguing for that.

And here is another one in which I recall the media reaction to the Gang’s first big media breakthrough on judicial nominations:

However, the Gang became media darlings. Countless editorials praised their “moderation,” “sensibility” and “reverence for tradition.” Clearly the liberal media saw the Gang’s actions as a blow to conservatives who want to confirm judges dedicated to interpreting the constitution (in the mold of Scalia and Thomas).

Despite the clear thrust of my column being negative towards the Gang, Lastango takes issue with one graf out of twelve…this one:

To date, the Gang’s stand has turned out better than expected for those conservatives, though. The high court is now presided over by Chief Justice John Roberts and he has a new associate, Samuel Alito, while the Senate has been able to approve a raft of President Bush’s lower level nominees.

Writes Lastango of the above graf, which he “won’t let pass” despite recognizing that the graf is an aside and not the point of the column:

Even an incident like the Gang hijacking national security and foreign relations issues isn’t enough to get people like Chapman to recognize the Gang as an unmitigated leadership failure by the Republican Party. If he’ll believe the Gang gave us Roberts and Alito, he’ll believe anything.

Ummmmm…did you read my column?

Nowhere in the piece did I praise the Gang. And contrary to the above assertion, nowhere in the piece did I credit the Gang for “giving us Roberts and Alito.”  My observation about the Gang’s activity on the judicial front is merely an observation that is based in fact. I was as upset with the Gang at that time as the next guy, but the point is this: those of us who were upset and feared that the Gang’s activity would result in the inability of the Senate to confirm judges were largely wrong in what we feared. Since that uproar, the Senate has confirmed a raft of lower level nominees, two Rock Star conservatives on the Supreme Court and we defeated a would-be disaster for conservatives on the Court.

That does not mean that in the future the Gang will not have a detrimental effect on the confirmation of conservatives but to date that has not come to pass.

Finally, Lastango is not finished with my writing. He cites this graf from a column in which I decried the hardball tactics being employed by some Republicans against Mike Pence on the immigration issue:

The idea that some so-called conservatives would abandon an up-and-coming Reaganite because they disagree with his good-faith attempt to find a workable immigration solution is a measure of the temperature at which this debate is being conducted.

Concludes Lastango:

What’s a little nation-wrecking between us conservatives, eh?

Nation-wrecking? So now a disagreement on the best approach to immigration reform is tantamount to nation-wrecking? Please…I appreciate that Lastango is paying attention to my writing. That is flattering. I just wish he would read it for what it is and leave his agenda out of it.

Bush sends up more judges

August 31, 2006 at 9:42 am

I missed this yesterday…from a White House press release:

President George W. Bush today announced his intention to nominate the following five individuals:

Terrence W. Boyle, of North Carolina, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit William James Haynes II, of Virginia, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit William Gerry Myers III, of Idaho, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit Norman Randy Smith, of Idaho, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit Michael Brunson Wallace, of Mississippi, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit

UPDATE: From the Washington Post:

NASHVILLE, Aug. 30 — Bucking opposition in the Senate, President Bush on Wednesday nominated five people for the U.S. Court of Appeals, including one whom Democrats have threatened to block with a filibuster.

News that Bush had decided to nominate the conservative jurists came before Bush spoke at a fundraiser for Bob Corker, who faces a tough Senate race against Democratic nominee Harold Ford Jr.

Federal judge rules NSA anti-terrorist program unconstitutional

August 17, 2006 at 1:47 pm

A federal judge appointed by Jimmy Carter has, I fear, made the country less safe today:

A federal judge ruled Thursday that the government’s warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit became the first judge to strike down the National Security Agency’s program, which she says violates the rights to free speech and privacy as well as the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.

I can hear the champagne corks popping at the ACLU and NY Times…

Haynes nomination dead?

August 15, 2006 at 9:01 am

Andrew Hyman at Confirm Them comments on a South Carolina article declaring the nomination of Jim Haynes to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dead:

The Haynes nomination may or may not be dead, but returning his nomination certainly isn’t a killer. After all, Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination was returned, and he was renominated and confirmed. Note that Haynes was nominated in February of 2005, and thus he has been a “pending” nominee under the Gang of 14 Deal. However, if renominated, he would apparently be a “future” nominee under that deal.

Meanwhile, Paul at Powerline and Adler at NRO place the blame on South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

New nominees

June 28, 2006 at 7:25 pm

The White House has sent ten new judicial nominees to the hill today. Check out ConfirmThem for a thorough vetting process. The nominees are listed in the extended section. Read the rest of this entry »

GOP Senators look to move Boyle nomination

June 28, 2006 at 1:46 pm

North Carolina Senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter on the hill in which they refute recent allegations against Fourth Circuit nominee Terrence Boyle. “[T]here is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Judge Boyle knowingly heard a case in which he had a conflict of interest, used his office for personal gain, or abused the trust of the people he was appointed to serve,” write the duo. The letter is a direct refutation of allegations that Judge Boyle, whose nomination has languished for over a year in the Senate, unethically participated in cases in which he had a financial interest.

Also of interest, is this letter from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter inviting Judge Boyle to respond to the allegations in writing.