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The next major battle that Democratic Senators must fight is against Bush's unacceptable judicial nominees. The NYTimes Ed Board gets it right:

The Senate is preparing for a major showdown over the Democrats' use of the filibuster to block a handful of President Bush's judicial nominees. When the arguments about procedures are over, the key question will remain: Has Mr. Bush put up men and women who deserve lifetime appointments to the federal bench? The three nominees who had hearings this month - a mining and ranching industry flunky, a much-reversed judge with an antipathy for individual rights, and a lawyer with a bad habit of not following the rules for practicing law - show why Democrats should stand firm.

The three are Myers, Boyle and Griffith:

William Myers III, one of the seven filibustered nominees, has built a career as an anti-environmental extremist. He was a longtime lobbyist for the mining and cattle industries. Then, as the Interior Department's top lawyer, he put those industries' interests ahead of the public interest. In one controversial legal opinion, he overturned a decision that would have protected American Indian sacred sites, clearing the way for a company to do extensive mining in the area. Mr. Myers has been nominated to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco. That court plays a major role in determining the environmental law that applies to the Western states.

Terrence Boyle, who has been nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, based in Richmond, is also a troubling choice. He has an extraordinarily high reversal rate for a district court judge. Many of the decisions that have been criticized by higher courts wrongly rejected claims involving civil rights, sex discrimination and disability rights. Mr. Boyle's record is particularly troubling because the court reversing him, the Fourth Circuit, is perhaps the most hostile to civil rights in the federal appellate system, and even it has regularly found his rulings objectionable.

Thomas Griffith, who has been nominated to the powerful Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has the unfortunate distinction of having practiced law in two jurisdictions without the required licenses. While practicing law in Washington, D.C., he failed to renew his license for three years. Mr. Griffith blamed his law firm's staff for that omission, but the responsibility was his. When he later practiced law in Utah as general counsel at Brigham Young University, he never bothered to get a Utah license.

Clearly the Senate Democrats must not allow these nominations to come to the floor. A "nuclear" battle could ensue.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 09:30 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Are there any preliminary head counts of Dem (none)
    ... Senators on these nominees?

    Anyone known to be defecting at this point?

  •  Hey Armando (none)
    How'd your oral argument go yesterday?

    "The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye. The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

    by pontificator on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 09:29:41 AM PST

  •  Interesting Quotes (none)
    From Rulings.....maybe build a profile for each.  Also why these three first are the rest just as bad?  What strategy does the WH have for putting up these 3 first?

    Lets support all the Democratic Senators and get in touch with some moderate Republicans.  Also, which senators are thinking about running in 2008 for the republicans....maybe remind them that past mistakes can come back and haunt them.

  •  These "activist" judges (none)
    cannot be allowed to pass. If the Democrats need to walk out to shut down the government in order to do this, so be it. I think the Democrats refering to them as "activist" judges is important. This way, they appropriate the Presidents own framing to be used against him. Bush must then expalin why he has flip-flopped, which the Democrats must also point out. First he is against activist judges who seek liberty and now he is for activist judges that seek limiting the American people.  "Why does the President keep flip-flopping and lieing to the American people about why he wants activist judges?"

    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -Tom Paine

    by Alumbrados on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 09:31:51 AM PST

  •  When they talk about obstructionism.. (none)
    we should just keep repeating the numbers:

    The Senate confirmed 214 judicial nominees in Bush's first term and blocked 10.


    He re-nominated 7 of those blocked 10. It's childish and a political game to him.
    They are literally the bottom of the barrel.

    •  I'll bet they think the obstructionist label (none)
      helped them defeat Tom Daschle last election.  No doubt they knew doing it again would cause this & they did it on purpose hoping to use the charge again.  We are already seeing them do the same thing with the Social Security issue.

      I don't think it'll fly this time though.  I mean DeLay & his ilk buy into it but I don't think John Q Public will.

  •  General Thought (none)
    If it weren't for the licensing issue, I could let Griffith slide, esp. since we killed off Estrada for that seat.  

    These are bad ones that we've got to fight, if for no other reason than that equally qualified Clinton nominees like Kagan didn't even get a hearing.  The Hatch-led Judiciary Committee created the false "vacancy crisis" they're now trying to fill.

    The big tests?  Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen and Brett Kavanaugh.

  •  Solidify the message: (none)
    Our Senators must make it clear that they are not voting against "Republican Nominees".  

    They are voting against people unfit for judgeship.  

    This must be said over and over again until it is heard.

    When someone calls them "obstructionist", there should be a consitant, unified response:

    "The focus of this debate is on the quality of the nominee. Namecalling does nothing to make me think this person is worth bringing to the floor."

    In the midst of winter I discovered there was in me an invincible summer - Camus

    by super ju on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 09:34:25 AM PST

    •  let's be clear (none)
      Their resumes are solid.  It's their ideology that's a problem.  So don't use "unqualified", use "extreme".
      •  Sorry, same thing to me (none)
        he put those industries' interests ahead of the public interest

        He has an extraordinarily high reversal rate for a district court judge. Many of the decisions that have been criticized by higher courts wrongly rejected claims involving civil rights, sex discrimination and disability rights.

        has the unfortunate distinction of having practiced law in two jurisdictions without the required licenses.

        Sorry, to me, things like that mean "unqualified" to serve in a lifelong judicial position.

        Strength without wisdom is a chimera, resolve without competence a travesty. - David Neiwert

        by SleepyG on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 09:46:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  to be sure (none)
          On Griffith, we can say "unqualified" because of the bar issues.  For the others, it's an ideological test, b/c the Republicans will recite their resumes ad infinitum.
        •  Question (none)
          I remember reading about how Bush decided he wouldn't follow tradition and let the american bar association rate Judicial nominees as qualified or unqualified...does the ABA give those ratings out at all anymore or are they just ignored?
      •  I don't think their resumes are solid (none)
        I think there are hard core, non-partisan problems with thier professional history.

        To me, this is a weak resume:

        He has an extraordinarily high reversal rate for a district court judge. Many of the decisions... have been criticized by higher courts...

        If, in my job, my decisions were consistantly being overturned by my bosses, I would never get promoted.  

        And this guy has actual illegal actions on his resume: has the unfortunate distinction of having practiced law in two jurisdictions without the required licenses.

        This one is a little more opinionated, but should we consider lobbying an appropriate career move for a judge? a longtime lobbyist for the mining and cattle industries.

        I think being a lobbyist is a pretty clear indication that you are not impartial to certain issues.  Impartiality and unbiased judgement is the cornerstone of a fair judiciary.

        These points are not about how extreme they are, but about a basic standard to which all appointees should be held.

        In the midst of winter I discovered there was in me an invincible summer - Camus

        by super ju on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 09:56:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A high reversal rate... (none)
          is not necessarily a bad thing--it depends on how it got there.  If the judge is reversed for ignoring blatantly "on point" and binding precedent, that's obviously a bad thing.  However, even good judges get reversed when there's legal uncertainty on a principle.  That's why we have circuit courts and the Supreme Court--to provide uniformity and certainty.
          •  But... (none)
            ...isn't it unlikely that one judge is ending up with a much higher number of cases involving legal uncertainty? It seems to me like that would even out over time, and so an extraordinarily high reversal rate would be more likely to reflect on the judge.

            "The past is never dead. It's not even past." -- William Faulkner

            by GreenCA on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 10:44:59 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes... (none)
              But what we need to do is not say "he's been reversed a lot!"  Troubling and concerning, to be sure, but not disqualifying in and of itself.  We should pick the two or three most egregious reversed decisions and say "this was reversed because of X."  Better politics.

              (A great example of this is the Priscilla Owen abortion case in TX, where she was in dissent, and got smacked down in a majority opinion written by now-AG Gonzales for being too extreme.  THAT's an example to use, rather than just saying "extreme!")

        •  The High reversal rate (none)
          is a couple hundred out of thousands.

          He's got problems as a judge, specially with the ADA, but I think he said he realizes his decisions were wrong.

          His real problem is that he will push the envelope.  As a trial judge, that's one thing, since there is a level of review above him.  On a COurt of Appeals, however, pushing the envelope leads to bad law, because so very few cases get reviewed by the Supremes.

    •  Yes, Public Opinion is the Key (none)
      The fact that these judges are even being nominated should be a stain on Bush.  The fact that the Republicans want to ram these nominations through the Senate should be a stain on all Republican Senators.  The fact that this battle is being portrayed as Democrats being obstructionists should be a stain on all Republican "spinners".

      This is insane.  Here are extremely unqualified judges that the Republicans are trying to slip into lifetime positions, who clearly have their own agenda that is contradictory to US law and public welfare, and yet the Democrats are the ones taking the punches.

      The Democrats need to convince the public that these nominations need to be thwarted before the battle begins.  Do whatever is necessary, get on the dumbass cable TV shows, force the issue on the dumbass Sunday morning shows, or even buy dumbass ads on TV to ge tthe point across.  

      Keeping this battle within the Senate halls will allow the Republicans and their media friends to ignore the core issue (unqualified nominations) and paint the Democrats as "obstructionists".  Control the message and win the battle.

      Strength without wisdom is a chimera, resolve without competence a travesty. - David Neiwert

      by SleepyG on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 09:43:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Really Concerned (none)
    I'm following this and the possibility of the "nuclear option" close today.

    This strikes me as scary.. another rule-change that would go unnoticed by most, like the one regarding how committee chairs are selected, yes?

    I used to be a Republican, a card-carrying, trained College Republican even (I've come a long way).  It was the "training" that showed me how far politicians will go, and this stuff drives me mad.

  •  Excellent! (none)
    Armando has done us a service by focusing our attention on the worst of Bush's judicial choices. Rather than oppose all of Bush's nominees, we need to focus on those particular nominees that are especially bad. If we oppose them all, we come across as merely obstructionists. But if we oppose them selectively and intelligently, we shift the onus onto the Republicans (and weak-kneed Democrats) to defend these choices. Thank you Armando for posting this!
    •  Maybe we need to be a little more 'obstructionist' (none)
      I'm actually quite tired of reading posts based fears of how we will be labeled by the other side.

      No matter what we do, the other side will slam us -- as they have proven time and time again.

      What our elected Dems do or don't so to slow down these wreckless, destructive, anti-democratic (small "d") forces has aboslutely no bearing on the names we are called or how we are framed by Luntz/Rove/Mehlman et. al..

      So get over it.  Perhaps if we had been a bit more "obstructionist," more Americans would understand that:

      • Our new Attorney General is an advocate for torturing people who never had an opportunity for due process, as required by our Constitution.

      • The Bankruptcy bill is yet another in a long line of legislative actions instituted by Republicans that attack middle and lower income Americans and benefit large corporations and the wealthiest 2% of society.

      • The Republican Party is not the party that supports our military, and, in fact, has repeatedly tried to cut benefits for our fighting men and women while simultaneously under-equipping them for battle leading to more deaths and injuries.

      • That this administration and its agents in the House and the Senate have let major business interests write policy and legislation -- over and over -- that benefit industries and corporations over the interests of ordinary citizens.

      And these are just a few issues.  We haven't been nearly "obstructionist" enough, and comments like your comments here provide the very reasons why we have become a minority party, unable to effect policy and legislation in any meaningful way.

      Bring on the obstructionism.

      •  We Absolutly Should Obstruct When Necessary (none)
        As Hendrick Hertzberg Points out in this week's New Yorker a minority of Democratic Senators are representing a majority of voters.

        "The filibuster allows a minority within a legislative body to thwart the will of a majority. But that is hardly the worst of the Senate's democratic imperfections, most of which spring from the arithmetical disparity among state populations.

        Fifty-one senators--a majority--can represent states with as little as seventeen per cent of the American people. Sixty senators--enough to stop a filibuster--can represent as little as twenty-four per cent. That's theory. What about reality? Well, if each of every state's two senators is taken to represent half that state's population, then the Senate's fifty-five Republicans represent 131 million people, while its forty-four Democrats represent 161 million.

        Looked at another way, the present Senate is the product of three elections, those of 2000, 2002, and 2004. In those elections, the total vote for Democratic senatorial candidates, winning and losing, was 99.7 million; for Republicans it was 97.3 million. The forty-four-person Senate Democratic minority, therefore, represents a two-million-plus popular majority--a circumstance that, unless acres trump people, is at variance with common-sense notions of democracy. So Democrats, as democrats, need not feel too terribly guilty about engaging in a spot of filibustering from time to time."

  •  If the Dems stand up like they did on Bankruptcy (none)
    we'll have David Duke as a Supreme Court Judge
  •  Big battle, but not the next one (none)
    The judicial nominee battle will be big and potentially catastrophic for the Senate, and there is much to say and do but it isn't the next thing on the agenda.  The next big battle for the Dems is drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  It will be a budget vote in the Senate next week.  It doesn't look like Dems have the votes at the moment and a loss on this will be devastating for the environmental movement in this country.  With all due respect to Armando, that is where the grassroots energy will be next week.

    I'll post more about this later, I just can't do it at the moment.

  •  USE THE RULES (none)
    The rules of the Judiciary Commmitteee say no vote to take a nominee to a floor vote may happen unless 1 member of the minority members is present.
     By simply refusing to attend the Dems have cover.

    This guy is no longer my state senator Don't get mad ,get local

    by ctkeith on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 09:44:34 AM PST

  •  Take it to the Ghetto (none)
    The only real hope we have of fending off the GOP assault is to start a real low down street brawl. We have to take our response directly from their play book. Fight them with all we have and make them pay in 06 !
  •  Pryor's no dreamboat either (none)
    In an email I received from MoveOn Pac:

    "William Pryor Jr. served as Attorney General of Alabama, where he took money from Phillip Morris, fought against the anti-tobacco lawsuit until it was almost over, and cost the people of Alabama billions in settlement money for their healthcare system as a result. He called Roe v. Wade "the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history," and has consistently argued against the federal protections for the civil rights of minorities, lesbian and gay couples, women, and the disabled."

    Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

    by bumblebums on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 09:49:10 AM PST

    •  Never practiced law a day . . . (none)

       . . . in his life, which, in and of itself would disqualify him to sit on any bench if he were a legal scholar, which he is not.  He is Republican Spice Girl:  a totally, utterly, wholly groomed and contrived party hack who's merely party-hacked his way to "the top."  Apologies to the "Spice Girls."


      "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." T.J.

      by BenGoshi on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 10:13:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Correction: never tried a case. [nt] (none)

        "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." T.J.

        by BenGoshi on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 10:13:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Eh. (none)
          These are appellate nominees; they're not going to be sitting on trial courts.  But do they have appellate argument experience?  I know Pryor has tons.
          •  I'm quite familiar with this. (none)

             Look, I practice.  I know reasonable minds disagree on this, but I am of the strong opinion that one of the problems with our judicial system right now is that their are too many (on both state and federal levels) judges sitting on (let's just talk Fed) the district, circuit and s.c. benches who have NO CONCEPT what it's like out here in the real world.  Utterly devoid of any practical knowledge of things.  Pryor's given a brief and coached on what to say by some sychophant handler.  Fuck that:  Keanu Reeves or Sean Penn could do the same.  Probably better.


            "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." T.J.

            by BenGoshi on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 10:31:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  qualifications (none)
              And I practice as well, mostly federal.  

              Let's put ideology aside; I think being a state attorney general qualifies you to sit on a federal appellate bench.  I think that's practical enough.

              I'm not thrilled with guys like McConnell jumping from academia/advocacy to the circuits, but, then again, Posner was just in the SG's office and academia before his appointment, and you can't question his performance.

              •  I'm mostly Fed, too. (none)

                 Just got off the phone with a very nice Asst. Clerk of Court with the 11th Cir, in fact.

                 At any rate, I just hold strongly and steadfastly to the opinion that our Courts suffer greatly from Judges, again, on all levels, who have little-to-no experience out in the real world, nor any life's work as a legal scholar.  Has it always been this way, maybe, maybe not.  But it's certainly the way it is (or, to me, glaringly seems to be) now.  Decision after decision after decision, both trial and appellate, comes down where I say, "Good, God!  Have you no understanding of what's going on here?!"  Some of that's just pure politics, some of it's just more and more ignoramouses getting on the bench, but, I think, a thread that runs through many of these appointees (or elected goofballs) is their getting "kicked upstairs" because they either couldn't, or wouldn't, practice down "in the trenches."

                 Do I think every candidate or nominme for Judge has to have practiced "X" years and have tried "X" number of cases in "X" number of courts on "X" numbered of varied issues or areas of law?  Of course not.  But do I think that way, way, too many political hacks and goofballs (Clarence Thomas being the Poster Child for all of this, of course) are worming their way onto the bench and helping to make American Jurisprudence a farce or a tragedy -- in great part owning to their lack of practical or academic experience -- absofrigginglutely.


                 got to run and actually practice myself, now!  regards . . .


                "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." T.J.

                by BenGoshi on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 10:51:39 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  agreed (none)
                  Appellate judges should have to cover trials every once in a while -- I know Posner did last year.

                  And law professors ought to practice a little before they teach.  But that's for another day.

                •  agreed (none)
                  Appellate judges should have to cover trials every once in a while -- I know Posner did last year.

                  And law professors ought to practice a little before they teach.  But that's for another day.

      •  Well... (none)
        I can think of a number of leftie-oriented legal scholars who I certainly wouldn't mind having on the bench who (I believe) have never tried a case in a trial court in their life (folks like Larry Lessig and Larry Tribe, who do appellate practice), and some who (I believe) may never even have tried a case (Stamford Dean and former NYU Professor Larry Kramer).  Just because someone's never actively "practiced law" shouldn't disqualify them from the federal bench, especially at the appellate level.

        (A stronger case can be made at the trial level, where judges are dealing with as much administration as they are with the lofty legal issues involved in any individual case.)

        •  Read my comment again. (none)

           I say without practical trial experience or scholarly experience.  Or, at least I tried to say that and, if it came out garbled, then I apologize for the confusion.  


          "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." T.J.

          by BenGoshi on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 10:33:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Pryor (none)
      I have a small amount of respect for him, though, based on how he handled the Roy Moore incident as Alabama AG.
  •  Don't forget Haynes! (none)
    William James Haynes, nominee for the 4th Circuit, may(!) have tried one case in his entire life.  He didn't even live in the Fourth Circuit when initially nominated.  He doesn't even appear to have the backing of Virginia Republican Senator John Warner. He has been general counsel for the DOD and advised the Department on interrogation techniques & the Geneva Convention.  He is not qualified and never will be!
  •  bring it on! (none)
    I think the threat of the nuclear option is a bluff.  I can't see hard-core conservatives approving of the destruction of the filibuster, given that it is such a fundamental part of the checks on majority power

    "no one likes missionaries with bayonets" -- Robespierre

    by Dont Tread on Me on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 09:56:59 AM PST

    •  ROTFLMAO (none)
      Crap, coffee all over my keyboard!

      If they pull the nuclear option, Dems will never again have any power.

      Welcome to the ownership society. Neocons own America.

      •  keep in mind (none)
        the 'nuclear' option is ONLY for judicial nominees, not for the filibuster as a whole.

        It would ONLY apply to the judicial nominees, not to debate on bills before the senate.

        However, it appears this distinction isn't making it into the MSM. Hm. This could be a positive for our side. Thoughts?

        •  No reason for it to stay that way (none)
          There wouldn't be any legal distinction between judicial nominees and other nominees so an expansion there would be a virtual certainty.  Since the legal reasoning itself is specious there's no significant jump to apply the nuclear option to all bills.

          The nuclear option squelches dissent and silences the voices of millions of people.  That's what this is about, not the particulars of how it is applied.

      •  Why would the GOP (none)
        want to screw themselves in this way.  What happens when the Dems take control of the Senate - the GOP will have to live what they wrought.  Moreover, what's to prevent the Dems from pulling their own "nuclear option" - for example by withholding unanimous consent on dispensing with the reading of bills?

        "The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation." - Pierre Trudeau

        by fishhead on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 11:28:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Don't count on it. (none)
      These aren't your sober, mid-century conservatives.  These are radical extremists.  All you need to do is look at Tom Delay's blatant manipulation of the rules of procedure, redistricting, threats to wayward caucus members etc. to know that these people are not at all constricted by any deference to democratic process or Congressional tradition.

      There are moderate Republicans, but the driving force behind the Republicans is from those who would rewrite the Constitution, if they could, to solidify their agenda and their grip on power.

      Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of nonthought. -- Milan Kundera

      by Dale on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 10:19:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hmm... (none)
    "The next major battle that Democratic Senators must fight is..."
    Reality-based translation:

    "The next major battle that Democratic Senators must compromise their values and the American people on is..."

    Political Physics - All we have to fear, is fear itself

    by cgilbert01 on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 09:59:26 AM PST

  •  Why don't we elect the federal judiciary? (none)
    It's obvious that the only qualification for a Republican nominee is their fealty to the party.  There are no signs that will change in future administrations, some of which will, unfortunately, be Republican.  Why continue to allow these lunatics a lifetime appointment to the bench?

    Let's elect the federal judiciary.  The voters can hardly be worse judges of character than the Senate has proven itself to be.

    •  because (none)
      As bad as the Senate can be, popular sovereignty is worse.  You don't want judges becoming hacks, having to raise campaign funds and make speeches, etc.

      That same Senate also make Thurgood Marshall, William Brennan, Harry Blackmun and Stephen Breyer SCOTUS judges.

      •  How could it be worse? (none)
        These judges are partisan hacks.  What we have is a system where partisan hacks nominate the judges and partisan hacks confirm them.  What other outcome could there be but a judiciary full of partisan hacks?

        The fundamental belief that informs the argument that judges should be nominated and confirmed rather than elected is the belief that those who nominate and confirm the judges place a higher priority on the judge's widsom than the judge's partisanship than the electorate does.  Well, I don't see any evidence of that at all.  All I see is evidence to the contrary.

        Folks say that judges would be bought by industry, but they already are; when an industry buys a Senator, they buy the Senator's vote for a judge, too.  At least if they were elected, you would know who owned them.

        Folks say that judges' decisions would be tempered by their desire to be re-elected.  But their decisions already are tempered - if only by their desire for advancement to the federal judiciary.  How many of these nominees wrote opinions solely to win the favor of a conservative president or a conservative Senator?  At least if they were elected, they'd have to answer to me, too.

        As for the examples of good judges who were nominated, and the bad ones who weren't, well, you can offer counterexamples for each.  For every Thurgood Marshall there's a Clarence Thomas.  For every Roy Moore there's a Leah Sears.  I'm quite willing to take the risk to lose a Thurgood Marshall if it means the opportunity to boot a Clarence Thomas.

    •  if you think that (none)
      you need to spend some time in the NC state court system.  We elect all of our judges, and it's an insane way to pick them.
    •  Elected Judges... (none)
      turn law into nothing more than politics--judges are afraid to overturn criminal sentences (even wrongly obtained ones) for feating they'll look "soft on crime" in the next election.  Because they have to run for office time and again, they have to take contributions from organizations that impact their impartiality--witness Texas, where oil companies have successfully managed to buy much of the appellate bench.  

      Judges should be designed to bring stability, non-partisanship, and the like to our system--yes, the appointment system is imperfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than electing judges.  

      •  "Soft on Crime" (none)
        When a society is more interested in punishing criminals than they are in justice, then it doesn't matter what method they use to choose judges: the judges will be more interested in punishing criminals than they are in justice.

        It's like California's initiative process.  It's blamed for the state's fiscal problems (perhaps wrongly), but the same fiscal problems plage the federal government, too - because the people want to eat their cake and have it, too.  The only way to solve that problem is to eliminate the ability of the people to influence government - which isn't a desirable solution.

    •  Roy Moore was elected. (none)

        Think about it.


      "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." T.J.

      by BenGoshi on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 10:35:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I appear fairly often before Judge Boyle (none)
    and he can surprise you.  For instance, he just slapped down the Navy for placing a proposed landing strip next to a wildlife sanctuary in eastern NC.  

    He's an unpredictable trial judge, which is not always what you want.  But again, he can surprise you.  He would be less problematic if his unpredictability were tempered by two other judges on every case.

    We're not going to get liberal judges on the 4th Cir.  We have two Republican senators.  The next nominee from NC could indeed be worse than Terry Boyle.

    I'm not coming out in support of Terry Boyle, but I just thought I'd tell you to be careful what you wish for...

  •  I think you mean nukular ... (none)
    and by way, whats with all the bitterness about the bankruptcy bill on this thread?  Anyone who knowspolitics knew this turkey was going to fly.  It sucks when you realize that "our" democratic reps are compromised by money, but they are.  What we must concentrate on is the way Web financing is changing the political landscape, taking away the power of the big special interests.  While things are changing, they haven't chaned enough for most democrats to stand up to the Credit Card and banking industires, especially on an issue that is not goig to hit their re-relection campaigns in a significant way.  This was a fight Harry could not win ... so he largely decided not to fight it.  When you are in the minority, somtimes you need to pick your fight, and this was one to let go...then rail against in the midterms.  Think Tactically, Act Globally.

    Those willing to sacrifice their etenal freedom for temporary freedom are worthy of neither freedom nor security.

    by TheGryphon on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 10:16:57 AM PST

    •  Utter nonsense (none)
      and this was one to let go...then rail against in the midterms.

      You can't "rail" against something that nearly half of your party voted FOR

      That vote made me question if I should really label myself a "Democrat".  

      It was despicable.  Wealthy senators voting to destroy the lives of our most vulnerable citizens so they could get financial kickbacks...

      Maybe Nader had some truth to his mad ramblings...

  •  I cant help but feel sympathy for these Dems (none)
    My God, can you imagine how tiring this constant war inside Congress has been on these people?

    Maybe Ill email a couple and give them a few good words of encouragement.   Thats a tough position theyre in.

  •  Liberal activist judges (none)
    The British have a great TV series called, John Deed, about a liberal, activist high court judge. If you can snag it somewhere, I really recommend it. (And when will Hollywood give us something like that?--Yeah, right).

    He's a 52 year-old divorced left Labour judge with a Tory ex-wife and an eco-warrior daughter at university. He's from the working class in Manchester but an Oxford grad. He can't keep his dick in his pants and lusts after one of the country's top female barristers. The Torys have set spies on him, whom he always outwits. When the right wingers challenge him, he sends them to hell. His enemies try to have his decisions overturned but they're so judicially sound it never works. Corrupt corporate types and brutal police go to jail!

  •  Wrong attitude on judicial nominations (none)
    Why do Democrats so vehemently oppose these judicial candidates? Could it possibly be simply that they take opposing stances on some of today's hot issues, such as abortion? If so, this is the wrong attitude about the courts. The Constitution was meant to, in part, interfere with majoritarian impulses not to bow to them as the Democrats seem to think they now should.
    •  Hey, troll (none)
      I find it rather funny that you mention that "The Constitution was meant to, in part, interfere with majoritarian impulses not to bow to them"  as forcing obeisence to majoritarian impulse is exactly what the Repubs are trying to do by getting rid of the filibuster, the greatest protector of minority rights in the legislative branch of government.  I think you must be standing on your head and everything looks, well, kinda upside-down.  It's the only way to make sense of your comment.   That kind of thinking reminds me of the fellow (true story) who shot his wife because divorce was against his religion.

      Why do you think repubs blocked so many of Clinton's appointees?  Because they took "opposing stances on some of today's hot issues, such as abortion?"  DUH?  But that was okay with you, I guess.  Besides, it's not just their stances that are objectionable, it their lack of qualifications and obvious bias leading to legally unsound decision making.  But bias is fine, as long as it's biased your way, no doubt.

      In case you are unaware of it, the courts are not only defenders of the constitution, but according to their constitutional mandate and settled law, defenders of the people that that constitution represents.  

      I say let's go nuclear!  Let them try to ram this stuff down America's throat and see just who chokes.  It's time to lance this boil.

    •  Dear Troll, (none)
      Opposition to these kinds of judges is not predicated necessarily upon their stance on hot-button issues. Opposition is predicated on the fact that these judges advocate reversing or eroding many of the long held constitutional principles with which the American judicial system has functioned.

      Janice Rogers Brown (Antonin Scalia in a skirt) has questioned the long held legal principle that the 14th Amendment makes the Bill of Rights applicable to the states. This would undo roughly, oh, just over a century of legal precedent, if followed.

      A vast majority of the civil rights advances of the last 60 years were based on the applicability of the 14th Amendment. Brown v. Board is but one.

  •  last time (none)
    Did any R's vote to uphold the filibuster on any of these last time around?  It seems these guys may be objectively bad, even independently of political slant.  
    •  no (none)
      A vote was never actually necessary on the filibusters, because the GOP caved at the mere threat of a filibuster, and did not force Democrats to do it.

      Nevertheless, not a single Republican came on the record supporting filibusters.

      Finally, the only general indicator we have of objective talent in judicial nominations is their ABA rating. And every one of Bush's picks had the top rating from the ABA.

  •  Nuclear -- Yes! (none)
    I'd like us to use the nuclear option,which as I gather is essentially a variant on the filibuster itself.  But I'm for it for a different reason.

    Of course I'm against confirming unqualified people to lifetime judgeships.  Who isn't?  And if the Repubs want to be in favor of it, fine.  It's our job to resist.

    My reason for wanting to go nuclear is strategic.  To me, the Repubs threat to do away with the filibuster is music to my ears.  A la B'rer Rabbit, let's bemoan the potential death of the filibuster!  Let's sucker them right into shooting themselves in the foot!  (Two mixed mataphor PLUS a messed up literary reference -- I should get a job at the NY Times!)

    Anti-democratic (little d) measures like the filibuster and its ilk are no friend of ours.  Sure, in the short term it'd be great to stuff one down W's throat.  But I'd much rather return to power with these tactics roundly condemned and no longer available.  They have historically been much more useful to the forces of evil than to those of good, and in truth they are at variance with the constitutional scheme. for the constitution, let's talk about making some changes there.  Senate Reform, anyone?

  •  I would like to know (none)
    if Kos and his faithful Kossacks will put in writing the following:

    1. That filibustering judges is perfectly acceptable, no matter which party does it.

    2. That changing the Senate rules to combat filibusters is unacceptable, no matter which party does it

    It would nice to get this on the record in the event the tables are reversed at some point in the future.

    *Don't forget, Mondale is the pol who first used the "nuclear" option, changing the votes required to overcome a filibuster from a 2/3 majority to 60 for the very reasons Republicans are condsidering it now - don't you hate those pesky little details?

    •  I'm not binding... (none)
      But here would be my thoughts on those two:

      1.  Fillibustering judges who evidence suggests are extreme, biased, or highly out of the mainstream is highly justifiable, especially in light of their lifetime appointments.  Based on my knowledge of the background of Clinton's judicial nominees, none even came CLOSE to the level of concern raised by these nominees, not even those blocks by the Congress.

      2.  I do not believe in the abolition or reduction of the fillibuster in any way.  It is a valuable tool for the preservation of the rights of the minority.  That said, I am also opposed to indiscriminate use of the fillibuster and to the use of tactics (like "anonymous holds") that were commonly used by Republicans on Clinton's judges, many of which would have had 60+ votes had they came to a floor vote.
      •  Thanks (none)
        for an honest answer.

        The claim that Clinton's judges were somehow less extreme than Bush's, however, is a matter of opinion.  We conservatives certainly had issues with his appointments, primarily of course the tendency for liberal justices to legislate from the bench.

        Of course, Reagan's appointment Kennedy is the worst offender in that regard - so we can't just blame Clinton.

        •  Here's My Problem (none)
          The Republicans are asking for a substantive standard to be applied to their nominees (if the resume's good, approve them) that was not applied to Clinton's nominees from 1995-2000 (if we don't think we like their ideology, they don't even get a hearing).

          For that reason, full obstructionism is warranted until such a point at which we reach detente.  I'd rather have SCOTUS with Tribes and Posners and Kosinskis and Ackermans than with people who are up there because they're "acceptable", middling choices like Ginsburg and Kennedy.

          •  The irony is... (4.00)
            Folks like Posner and Kozinski would never even be CONSIDERED by this administration for a seat (though they're generally conservative and would likely sail through confirmation) because they're not wholly predictably conservative--both have quirky libertarian streaks and try to be philosophically consistent, which isn't always consistent with the conservative agenda.  

            I'd consider myself fairly liberal, especially on this issue, and would likely vote to confirm both Posner and Kozinski if they were in the Senate.  

        •  asdf (none)
          I never saw any SPECIFIC allegations directed toward Clinton's nominees that rise to those that are (pretty much uncontested) raised against these people, but just vague platitudes about "judicial activism!"
          •  You might be right (none)
            And I admit to having a very limited knowledge about specific nominations over the years from both parties.

            If Bush is truly only putting up the most conservative of justices that bothers me too, and I have no problem with filibusters as long as they are acceptable to the left when the tables are turned.

            As to "vague platitudes" I'll plead guilty - but we both know the judiciary is becoming much too powerful and sticking their noses where they don't belong (i.e. Bush first election victory), which has been more acceptable to the left because it largely helps promote their agenda.

            •  Such as? (none)
              I have no problem with filibusters as long as they are acceptable to the left when the tables are turned.

              Well, the most notable Republican filibusters I can think of are the attempts to block the Civil Rights legislation back in the 1960s. While I wouldn't call that acceptable to anyone, I think they were accepted as a legitimate stalling tool by Democrats until it was defeated fair and square.
              Were you referring to something like that?

  •  It's not going to stop. (none)
    Perhaps he is the Environmental Preznit after all. Bush has not shied away from recycling much of the garbage from prior administrations in the form of policy initiatives, indicted former officials, wonkish warmongers, political assassination squads, and just plain bad law.

    We will fight every one of these battles-and we will probably lose most of them. but that should not stop us from fighting.

    Pelosi's tactic on the Delay action today is a good indicator of what can happen over in the House.

    hope the Senate leadership is coordinating strategery with 'em.

    "There are times in politics when you must be on the right side and lose." John Kenneth Galbraith

    by susanp on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 10:52:13 AM PST

  •  What I find most amusing about neo-cons (none)
    Is that they truly believe that our system is designed in such a way that every four years we elect a dictator, who is free to force and agenda that may be repugnant to million on those millions.

    Bill Frist and Orrin Hatch continually repeat a false interpretation about out constitutional system which is that our system is based on majority rule. If anything the establishing of methods to require a supermajority vote on issues that may be extremely opposed by a minority,especially a minority that is only a minority by a small differential makes it clear that our founding fathers intended anything BUT majority rule.

    Their continual blithering that there is something very wrong, inappropriate, and not in the spirit of the intent of our founding fathers to filibuster judicial nominees indicates that they have a total disregard for the constitution and more inportant is totally incxonsistant with their own "constuctivist" philosophy of constitutional law.

    If anything, the use of the filibuster against judicial nominees is more closely in line with the intent of the founding fathers than the mere filibuster of legislation. Legislation at best cn be considered mutable. If legislation that is favored by Republican is allowed to pass, its effects can be temporary. If a few years after legislation is passed, the political balance and wishes of thevoter shifts from conservative to liberal, it merely takes new legislation to change or eliminate legislation that has becomer outdated, or undesireable. Not so with a judicial nomination. They serve for life. For many years they may be able to not only oppose, but obstruct legislation that may not only be desired by the electorate, but may in some cases be absolutely necessary to deal with changing circumstance.

    If anything, the ability to filibuster, and require a supermajorirty vote to appoint a judicial or any other nominees would be more necessary and advisable than doing so for legislation.

    Given the nature of conservatives, and neo-cons in particular, this is nothing unusual.

    Our Democratic representatives cannot be considered obstructionist. In fact, in every sense, they are keeping faith with the intent of the founding fathers, who were well aware of the terrible and tyranical nature of majorities.

    They lived under a form of government which was parliamentary in nature, yet was based soly on majority primary. The effects of this majority rule led to the disenfranchisement of Catholics or those of other religious faiths, because the majority church, the Anglican Church, was the official Church. The Churchc of the majority.Without a political, legislative, and administrative method to block a simply majority from controlling government, the founding fathers could examine, first hand, how majority rule was incompatible with democratic governance, as majority rule invariably leads to minority exclusion and eventually discrimination to the ultimate degree of any minority. In essence minorities live, work, worship, and even exist exist at the whim, and only on the terms set by the majority. The founding fathers in their unique and distinct wisdom, were the first to figure out that to preserve real democratic government, at least one hand of a simple majority must be tied. To require a supermajority means the simply majority MUST compromise, must give way to minority rights and concerns, in order to get what the majority wishes. OUR founding fathers realized that self interest, not morality, not interpretation of what is right or wrong, is the best basis for governanace. Because ast its very best and  its noblest, Self interest always is aware of the self interest of others. Only a government based on the self interest working at it most elevated level can reach decisions where the majority can prevail to a degree, and at the same time preserve the rights of all minorities.

    Unfortunately, the neo-cons do not work from self interest at its best, and to do so, they must attempt to do the opposite of their own claimed contructionist view of the constitution. THey must ideologically interpret the constitution, and deconstruct it in a way that it can be interpreted out of al context from elements that they find problematic. In essence, they desire to establish and ideological dictatorship.

  •  Making a silk purse... (4.00)
    ...out of a sows ear:

    Assuming Reid doesn't let us down again and let himself and our delegation be bought off for a few lousy campaign coins this time...

    Lets assume the Dems can actually stop these judges.

    Well, that would require them to realize that "statesman-like quiet diplomacy" is no longer an admirable trait in the days of 24 hour news channels and daily political polling.

    But lets assume that actually occurs to them, and they view this as an opportunity.

    Go full bore after these horrendous judges where it matters -- not in the Halls of Congress, but in the Court of Public Opinion.

    Get all the Dems together for a nice prayer breakfast, and get them to agree on a strategy that's good for the party to take these judicial appointments head-on.

    Grab every microphone in existence, do local puff interviews, get on the late-night comedian shows, and mock the hell out of these out of touch anti-american judges.

    If you're funny or quotable, people will forgive you being creative with your descriptions.  Don't just "oppose" them, "demonize" them.  View them as rivals running 50/50 with you in the last days of the race.

    Make these appointments radioactive

    Dare the Republicans to vote for these guys, and endorse that kind of anti-american judical activism.

    Ignore any comparisons to sitting judges (esp ours), keep hammering home how awful these guys are.

    Then don't stop

    After you defeat these, don't let up.  From now on, each judical appointment is just another one of those "God-Awful Bush Judicial Nominees".

    Once you get Bush and the Republicans to close ranks around the indefensible, you've tied the two together in the public's mind.

    Yeah, they'll fight back.  The public will go "its just partisan politics".  They'll also have no faith nor interest in those nominees.

    And thats why you keep pushing

    Once the public associates Bush's nominees with that first batch of rejects all his future nominees can be painted with the same brush.

    I don't like when the Dems copy the Repubs just to be "me too".  But this is different.  If they're gonna push the unexcusable on us, this is a reasonable response.

    I don't like demonizing the republicans because you can't sway someone you're attacking.  But this is aimed at the GOP leadership, not the common voter.

    It would take bold men to drive straight into the heart of the beast and keep on going.  But that's how you win.  Not by being clever, cutting deals, or waiting for a higher power to bail you out.

    I'm not holding my breath.

    •  You are... (none)
      ...100% on target.  The only way to win this is the way that we're winning the (poorly orchestrated) assault on Social Security.  We have to get the constituents of each of these nutjob senators to call their offices, and the only way to do that is to tie these judges with extreme injustice.  Racism, Anti-sportsman/environmentalist, anti-personal liberty.
      •  Good luck... (none)
        I abhor the idea of W. renominating these folks but I don't see where taking these judicial candidates' prevous rulings to the public will accomplish much.  90%+ of the electorate couldn't give a rat's ass about the prior rulings and positions of these folks much less understand them.  Geeks like us care but the average Jo(sephin)e doesn't.

        The only way it might be possible is if you tie them ALL together as an issue.  There's no way that you're going to fight them one-by-one.  The public isn't going to keep things straight between Owens, Boyle, Saad, Griffith etc.  Even if it's the whole issue of the unfairness of the nuclear option, it's got to be something catchy enough to grasp quickly.

  •  'Nucular' option: Right-Wing-Power-Grab Frame (none)
    Suppose Reid keeps the horses in line.  Suppose the Pubs go 'nucula.'  Time for the Right-Wing-Power-Grab Frame.  

    The extreme right wing of the republican party is engaged in a series of maneuvers designed to do away with all aspects of democracy that threaten their power.

    Tools for creating a 3D frame:

    1.  Redistricting in Texas (still in the courts), Colorado (struck down by courts), Georgia

    2.  Ohio Election, Florida Election

    3.  Ethics rules changes in the Senate

    4.  Stocking of regulative agencies with industry execs

    5.  Propaganda (Armstrong Williams et el.)

    6.  Anti-internationalist policies

    Any others?  The nuclear option has the potential of crystalizing in the public's mind the real nature of the Republicans in power right now.

    Dems for Democracy.
    Dems for Debate.

    The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use JFK

    by Responsible on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 11:34:28 AM PST

  •  This Is Not Just "The Next Battle" (none)
    Judges serve for life, so this battle is for the checkmate.

    Strong conservative judges, especially Court Justices, can repeal the Constitutional basis for much liberal economic and social justice policy. They could entrench our private-property mass media as exclusively the servants of their owners, without obligation either to society or other citizens.

    These kinds of changes would make it almost impossible to develop a counter-Republican consensus, and even if one somehow arose, it could be largely moot.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 12:23:28 PM PST

  •  mmmm let's see ... (none)
    ... considering yesterday's vote, can someone tell me why exactly we are pinning our hopes on the Dems? Again?

    They have proven over and over again that they are spineless.

    Maybe if I tap my heels together three times?

    Pray without ceasing. -The Pilgrim

    by greenfaux on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 01:40:11 PM PST

  •  The Left makes it far too EASY! (none)
    It appears that Liberals are going to make Supreme Court nominations quite easy for the Republicans.

    Follow the bouncing ball

    ...President Bush nominates 9 lower oourt judicial candidates...liberals like Byrd and Kennedy throw a temper-tantrum and threaten to use the filibuster to prevent these lower court nominations...John Q Public yawns and changes the channel to "The Apprentice"...Republicans change the Senate rules to eliminate judicial nominee filibustering...the left threatens hari-kari...John Q Public changes the channel to "American Idol"...President Bush nominates multiple candidates during 4 years to the Supreme Court...judicial filibustering is already gone...Liberals whimper...Bush's Supreme Court nominees sail through the Senate....Supreme Court decisions move decidely right for the next 30 years...Checkmate.

    Unfortunately, the Left can't see the forest for the trees and undoubtedly will exhaust themselves on these lower court nominees, while the public ignores the in-fighting on court appointees that have little meaning to everyday people..... just as the Republicans had planned all along.

  •  I especially like ... (none)
    ... the term "industry flunky".

    "We cannot let terriers and rogue nations hold this nation hostile. - W, 09/09/00

    by Bob Love on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 03:35:18 PM PST

  •  heatwave you sound a little (none)
    trollish, but given the Dems recent performance, understandably.

    Fresh off our stunning vict, oh, thats right, that was a bone headed loss, defeat, now we're going to show those thugs what we're made of.  This time, we mean it, no judges.

    Of course, if we let these pigs go, we can save it for the supremes, where we'll roll over and get nuked, at the least, by the thugs.  

    Or, we could stand up and fight now, get the nuclear thing on the table, and show them the consequenes later instead of waiting to the last minute when it will be too late.

  •  Myers (none)
    For some more of Myers's questionable rulings, see this:  

    Bush Judicial Nominee Involved in Controversial Grazing Deal

    True to form, of course, a couple days later, they came out and backtracked on their report, saying that Myers was in no way responsible. I'll leave you to search out that next-day-bushie-retraction for yourself, if you are interested.

    We need not stride resolutely towards catastrophe, merely because those are the marching orders. -- Noam Chomsky

    by kainah on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 08:45:22 PM PST

  •  Myers (none)
    For some more of Myers's questionable rulings, see this:  

    Bush Judicial Nominee Involved in Controversial Grazing Deal

    True to form, of course, a couple days later, they came out and backtracked on their report, saying that Myers was in no way responsible. I'll leave you to search out that next-day-bushie-retraction for yourself, if you are interested.

    We need not stride resolutely towards catastrophe, merely because those are the marching orders. -- Noam Chomsky

    by kainah on Fri Mar 11, 2005 at 08:45:45 PM PST

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