May 12, 2005

Simply Absurd

Priscilla Owen just had the anniversary of her nomination on May 9th.

Specifically, her FOURTH anniversary. Yeah, she was nominated in the first few months of Bush's first term and her nomination has yet to go anywhere. It has been neither defeated nor confirmed.

The judicial nomination process is not working in cases like these. Janice Rogers Brown was appointed to the DC Circuit Appeals Court, which is one-fourth empty. These are supposed to be filled and if the Senate rejects the nominees at least progress can be made toward finding someone to fill the slot. But if appointments aren't rejected they can't be remade.

It's totally absurd that nominations would be blocked for one ENTIRE Presidential term. Just vote them up or down.

There's a pretty transparent reasoning why most of the nominees are being blocked. First of all, in judicial matters the main issue is always abortion. Of the issues that are regularly in contention, Democrats are most beholden to supporters of abortion rights and so their judicial motivation is pushed by that. To a substantively lesser extent, the Republicans are motivated by life issues and a moral imperative to protect the right to life.

Given that background, and the association on the pro-choice side of confusing abortion with feminism and civil rights, the Democrats have a clear plan. They need to keep the conservatives, on and off the judiciary, looking like cranky old white guys - religious being a bonus. So nominations like Miguel Estrada, Janice Rogers Brown, and Priscilla Owen are all dangerous to them. They need to block these people, ultimately, as part of the PR aspects to encouraging their theme.

The theme is that cranky religious old white men want to take away YOUR right to abort. If black, female and Hispanic nominees get on the Supreme Court then it would seriously undermine the pro-choice theme.

The white guys being blocked are there for three reasons - 1) cover, to make it seem like they aren't just targeting women and minorities, 2) rallying points, since it's easier to falsely accuse Judge Pickering (who was an ally of civil rights leader Medgar Evers) of being an old white male racist than to point a finger at women and minorities, and 3) bargaining chips. The Democrats just made an offer, a ridiculous one, that they would allow votes on two specific white male nominees if the President withdrew Brown and Owens. Surprised?

It's an incredibly cynical tactic that has everything to do with maintaining the societal fiction underpinning the pro-choice movements.

Of course, even if the tables were reversed and the Republicans were blocking pro-choice nominees, it would be absolutely unacceptable that nominees were made to wait this long. The Senate should write a rule requiring a vote within a number of votes so that nominees can continue on with their lives.


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