Judiciary

Will Democrats Block Judicial Nominees?

Shortly after Election Day, President Bush sent a signal to Capitol Hill that he is only willing to go so far in the “spirit of cooperation” with Senate Democrats. Bush renominated six judicial nominees who haven’t received a Senate floor vote.
 
Senate Democrats, of course, are complaining that the President is reneging on his “promise” of bipartisanship. But they have not a shred of credibility on this point. Liberals in the Senate have turned the judicial confirmation process on its head, obstructing the President’s judicial nominees for political reasons. They even resorted to launching judicial filibusters, ignoring the constitutional directive to provide up-or-down votes on all judicial nominees. Why? Not because the nominees were unqualified. But rather because they didn’t like the nominees’ philosophy of judicial restraint. (Many liberals only like judges who will legislate from the bench.)
 
Republicans in the Senate made matters worse by folding in the face of Democratic resistance. Remember the so-called “Gang of 14” moderates in the Senate? Seven Republicans broke ranks and brokered a deal with seven Democrats to allow a few of the president’s judicial nominees through, while leaving open the possibility of future judicial filibusters. This compromise struck a fatal blow to the president’s attempts to push some key conservative nominees through by undermining any leverage the Republicans held in being the majority party.
 
The president should be congratulated for standing by his conservative judicial nominees. Unfortunately, no one—not even the president, I’m sure—expects these nominees to receive an up-or-down vote before the end of this lame duck session. And in January, when Democrats gain control of the Senate, what incentive will they have to fairly treat judicial nominees?
 
Republicans in the Senate had an opportunity to confirm conservative judges to the bench, and they blinked. Conservative candidates had an opportunity to educate voters on the importance of the “judge issue” in the last election cycle, but they did not. We must look no further than the recent New Jersey Supreme Court decision on gay marriage to see the price we will pay for these failures.
 
Jack Abramoff Finally Behind Bars
 
Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff is finally behind bars. On November 15, Abramoff reported to a federal prison in Maryland to begin his five-year, 10-month sentence for defrauding banks of $23 million in Florida in 2000. This, of course, far from closes the book on Abramoff and his congressional co-conspirators. He remains at the center of a massive public corruption investigation by the Department of Justice that, in the end, could involve as many as a dozen members of congress.
 
The web of influence peddling scandals involving Abramoff has already claimed more than a few politicians. First, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay resigned earlier this year rather than face Abramoff questions at election time. You also may recall that Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Ney resigned in early November, three weeks after pleading guilty for his role in an Abramoff-related scandal. Ney was the first Abramoff-connected Congressman to be convicted of a crime in the Abramoff matter. He may not be the last. Reports suggest Abramoff has been cooperating with authorities and naming names, including soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
 
Reid, who recently came under fire for failing to properly report a $700,000 land deal, allegedly accepted more than $30,000 of Abramoff-tainted money in return for his “cooperation” in matters related Nevada Indian gaming. The Nevada senator vehemently denies any wrong-doing, but according to an ABC News online report, Abramoff reportedly told investigators the contributions “were no accident and, in fact, were requested by Reid.”  
 
The Democrats, and the liberal media, would have you believe Abramoff was a Republican-only problem, but Reid’s alleged involvement suggests Abramoff played both sides of the aisle. In fact, according to ABC news, Abramoff has allegedly pointed the figure at "six to eight seriously corrupt Democratic senators."
 
Abramoff, who hobnobbed at the highest levels of government while living lavishly, will have to work in food service and similar jobs that pay anywhere from 12 to 40 cents an hour. His federal inmate number is 27593-112. It is good to know that sometimes crime doesn’t pay.