Not to take away from another similarly directed diary, but it's misleading to say that Chimpy "gave up" on four judicial nominees today. In fact, they withdrew their own nominations ... either way, though, this is sweet.
I've long held that the real, long-term effect of elections occurs in the only non-elected branch of federal government: the judiciary. Therefore, I can conceive of no better early example of the positive effect from Democratic control of Congress than this (let's go below the fold):
In a concession to the Senate's new Democratic majority, four of President Bush's appeals court appointees have asked to have their nominations withdrawn, Republican officials said Tuesday.
These officials said that William Haynes, William G. Myers III and Terrence Boyle had all decided to abandon their quest for confirmation. Another nominee, Michael Wallace, let it be known last month that he, too, had asked Bush to withdraw his nomination.
Haynes is the Pentagon's top lawyer, and was an architect of the Bush's now-abandoned policy toward treatment of detainees in the war on terror. He had been tapped for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Boyle is a federal judge in North Carolina, and his appointment to the 4th Circuit provoked opposition from Democrats who cited his rulings in civil rights and disability cases, as well as his higher-than-average reversal rate by higher courts.
Myers, nominated to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sparked opposition from environmentalist organizations and their allies among Senate Democrats.
Wallace's appointment to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals drew opposition from Democrats, civil rights groups and the American Bar Association.
Drunky McStagger is notorious for appointing only the most rabid wingnuts to the federal bench, so it's refreshing and satisfying to see the checks and balances actually occurring.
Of course, the Rethugs are crying foul:
But Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center [hahahaha! - Ed.] and a former clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, countered for conservatives. "In support of their own agenda of liberal judicial activism, Senate Democrats have engaged in unprecedented measures of obstruction against the president's highly qualified nominees," he said.
Yep, he said unprecedented measures of obstruction. This guy must have balls the size of, well, Antonin Scalia. Now, where might we have heard language like that before, hmmm?
Citing "unprecedented obstructionist tactics," President Bush resorted to using his recess appointment power twice during the 108th Congress. He invoked his recess appointment power for the first time to appoint Charles Pickering to the 5th Circuit on January 16, 2004, between sessions of Congress. This action ratcheted up the partisan feuding over nominees, particularly because Pickering had previously been rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 107th Congress. According to Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) in remarks later given on the floor of the Senate, this marked the first time a President had used his recess appointment power to install a rejected nominee. President Bush used his recess appointment power a second time on February 20, 2004, naming William Pryor, the former Attorney General of Alabama, to the 11th Circuit. This recess appointment occurred during a five-day winter break, not between sessions, and provoked calls for retaliation from the Democrats who pledged to challenge the validity of Pryor's recess appointment.
Repeating the same thing over and over doesn't make it true, Mr. Whelan. It just makes you sound like a whiny-ass titty baby.
But wait -- there's more. Let's examine "unprecedented," shall we?
In total, during the 106th Congress [(1999-2000)], President Clinton nominated 116 individuals and the Senate confirmed 73 nominees (15 to the U.S. courts of appeals, 57 to the U.S. district courts, and one to the Court of International Trade) and rejected one. At the close of the 106th Congress 67 vacancies remained (25 in the U.S. courts of appeals and 42 in the U.S. district courts) and 41 nominations were returned to the President. In December 2000, President Clinton exercised his recess appointment power by appointing Roger Gregory to the 4th Circuit.
By the end of the 107th Congress [(2001-02)], [President Bush] had nominated 131 individuals to the bench; the Senate Judiciary Committee had held hearings for 103 nominees and approved 100, rejected two (Charles Pickering and Priscilla Owen, both for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals) and not voted on one; and the Senate confirmed 100 nominees -- 83 to the district courts and 17 to the courts of appeals. Thirty-one nominations were returned to the President. The Senate Judiciary Committee did not take any action on 28 of the 31 returned nominees.
The 108th Congress [(2003-04)] continued to process nominees until the final days of the 2nd Session. The Senate Judiciary Committee held its last hearing on judicial nominees on November 16, 2004, and the Senate voted to confirm five district court nominees on November 20, 2004.
In the end, 104 of President Bush's 131 nominees were confirmed (28 to the courts of appeals, 85 to the district courts and one to the Court of International Trade), 2 were recessed appointed and 23 nominations were pending. At the close of the 108th Congress, twenty-eight out of 875 Article III judgeships were vacant, producing a record-low vacancy rate, which had hovered around or below 4.0% since summer 2003.
I'm having trouble finding statistics for the just-concluded 109th Congress. But, if you're scoring at home, here's the tally:
106th Congress (Clinton): 116 nominated, 73 confirmed, for a 62.9% conversion rate.
107th Congress (Bush): 131 nominated, 100 confirmed, 76.3% conversion rate.
108th Congress (Bush): 131 nominated, 104 confirmed, 79.4% conversion rate.
"Unprecedented measures of obstruction," my pasty white ass. Once again, the GOP weakly (and repetitively) tries to revise history, and once again, their contentions are easily refuted.
It's so nice to see these four wingnut nominees have to slink off with their tails between their legs!
(Cross-posted, with minor editorial revisions, to Blast Off!)