Carol Platt Liebau: Not So Much a "Reformer"

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Not So Much a "Reformer"

Hugh Hewitt has an important post on the status of judicial nominations in the post-2006 election era.

Newly elected Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell clearly is trying to restore the principle of "an up-or-down vote for every judicial nominee" -- a principle that was hopelessly muddied by the Gang of 14 compromise crafted by Senator John McCain. Obviously, Senator McCain is entitled to claim that his compromise resulted in the confirmation of judges, but had the constitutional option been invoked, the principle would have been clearly enunciated once and for all and many of the difficulties that now confront Republicans avoided.

In the last Congress, those who had the most to lose by the establishment of "an up-or-down vote for every judicial nominee" rule were clearly the Democrats. Republicans have never resorted to judicial filibusters for even the most obnoxious Democratic nominations -- the Dem senators' behavior was unprecedented.

So why did John McCain and 6 other Republicans (2 of whom lost their reelection bids) put together the "Gang of 14"? Mostly, it was because of a misplaced hesitation to clarify, even change if necessary, Senate rules to address the Democrats' behavior, despite its unprecedented and aggressive nature.

John McCain puts great stock in his reputation as a "reformer." But in his bid to avoid the constitutional option, he's acted like someone who places the traditions of the Senatorial club over considerations of basic justice and fairness. In doing so, he's exemplified the very behavior that Americans revolted against in the last election -- an approach to government that puts going along to get along ahead of obtaining the results, based on firm principles, that our representatives were sent to Washington to achieve.


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