Democrats on the Treatment of Nominees Other than Estrada

Well, not surprisingly, a great deal of political to-do happened late last week while I was on vacation. Not the least of which was the withdrawal of Miguel Estrada’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Unashamedly, though not rightfully so, Senate Democrats who are beholden to the abortion lobby gleefully saw the White House honor Miguel Estrada’s request to have his name withdrawn as a nominee to the federal bench. Those Leftists had zero qualms with trashing Miguel Estrada’s nomination, but when Bill Clinton was in the White House, they sang a different tune.

Though I’ve presented them in this space before, what follows are a few statements that are worth rereading that leading Democrats made on the Senate floor about how judicial nominees ought to be treated. They readily (and falsely) accused the Republican Majority of mistreating President Clinton’s nominees but turned around and employed an unprecedented filibuster against those of President Bush.

Back then, Democrats were easily offended, now they’re just offensive.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.): The American people should measure our progress by our treatment of the many qualified nominees . . . to the Courts of Appeals around the country. . . . That all of these highly qualified nominees are being needlessly delayed is most regrettable. The Senate should join with the President to confirm these well-qualified, diverse, and fair-minded nominees to fulfill the needs of the Federal courts around the country. (Congressional Record, page S6567-6568, July 12, 2000)

Sen. Leahy: We are not being responsible. We are being dishonest, condescending, and arrogant toward the judiciary. It deserves better and the American people deserve better. . . . Nominees deserve to be treated with dignity and dispatch. . . . We are seeing outstanding nominees nitpicked and delayed to the point that good women and men are being deterred from seeking to serve as federal judges. (Congressional Record, page S10544, September 8, 1999)

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass.): Many of us have been concerned about the Senate’s continuing delays in acting on President Clinton’s nominees to the federal courts . . . . This kind of partisan, Republican stonewalling is irresponsible and unacceptable. It’s hurting the courts and it’s hurting the country. . . . The continuing delays are a gross perversion of the confirmation process that has served this country well for more than 200 years. When the Founders wrote the Constitution and gave the Senate the power of advice and consent on Presidential nominations, they never intended the Senate to work against the President. . . . (Congressional Record, page S11102, September 21, 1999)

Sen. Leahy: We should be the conscience of the Nation. On some occasions we have been. But we tarnish the conscience of this great Nation if we establish the precedence of partisanship and rancor that go against all precedents and set the Senate on a course of meanness and smallness . . . . For the last several years, I have been urging the Judiciary Committee and the Senate to proceed to consider and confirm judicial nominees more promptly, without the months of delay that now accompany so many nominations. (Congressional Record, page S11795-11796, October 1, 1999)

Sen. Carl Levin (D.-Mich.): To keep these nominees pending for so long without hearings is unfair to the nominees, particularly where there is no known objection and where there is no explanation for the refusal to grant hearings. . . . We should also focus on nominees pending in the Judiciary Committee, awaiting hearings or awaiting a vote by the committee after a hearing, who are left there no matter how long they have been waiting. . . . (Congressional Record, page S9661-9662, October 3, 2000)

Sen. Leahy: Nominees practicing law see their work put on hold while they await the outcome of their nominations. Their families cannot plan. They are left to twist in the wind. (Congressional Record, page S8935, September 21, 2000)