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September 20, 2005
Reid To Senate: Partisanship Wins Over Substance

Confirming that the Senate Democratic leadership plans to offer nothing but knee-jerk opposition to judicial appointments from the Bush administration, Harry Reid today announced that he will vote to oppose the confirmation of John Roberts to the Supreme Court:

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid announced his opposition to Chief Justice-nominee John Roberts on Tuesday, voicing doubts about Roberts' commitment to civil rights and accusing the Bush administration of stonewalling requests for documents that might shed light on his views. ...

"I have reluctantly concluded that this nominee has not satisfied the high burden that would justify my voting for his confirmation based on the current record," the Nevada Democrat said on the Senate floor.

Reid did signal that he will oppose any effort to filibuster the confirmation or to delay the vote, an improvement over the past two sessions of Congress but still far short of the recognition given Clinton's nominees (Breyer and Ginsburg) in the bipartisan approval they received for their confirmations. The continued complaining about the lack of documentation amounts to a thin cover story for the entrenched partisanship displayed by the Democrats over executive appointments. Even their own former Solicitors General told the Senate that the material they requested should be considered privileged material, but it's the only excuse that Reid has for his intransigence.

This sets the Bush administration free to pursue its own ends in its next nomination. If Reid can't cast a vote for John Roberts, one of the most uniquely and undeniably talented and qualified prospects for the Supreme Court at hand, then Reid and the Democrats who follow him will never cast a vote for any Republican nominee. Reid gives no incentive whatsoever to negotiate or to consult with the Democrats on selections in the future; no matter what happens or how well qualified the nominee, they will oppose him or her.

The Democrats keep bringing up Bush's promise to be a uniter, not a divider. However, they have played impossible-to-get for far too long for the act to fool anyone into thinking that they have any sincere desire to unite with Bush under any terms but his abject surrender. The hearings proved that Democrats will go to any lengths to smear people and misrepresent their views with out-of-context quotes and illiterate readings of memos. Their credibility on appointments has completely eroded.

Bring on Janice Rogers Brown next. Let them try to tangle with someone of her toughness and mental agility -- again. When they trot out a filibuster, the Byrd option will come back to the table and they will then discover that the Roberts nomination gave them their last opportunity to retain any leverage at all in this process ... and they tossed it away.

UPDATE: How difficult was it to figure out the political calculations of this? Not very; even the LA Times did so in their editorial today urging the Senate to confirm Roberts:

IT WILL BE A DAMNING INDICTMENT of petty partisanship in Washington if an overwhelming majority of the Senate does not vote to confirm John G. Roberts Jr. to be the next chief justice of the United States. As last week's confirmation hearings made clear, Roberts is an exceptionally qualified nominee, well within the mainstream of American legal thought, who deserves broad bipartisan support. If a majority of Democrats in the Senate vote against Roberts, they will reveal themselves as nothing more than self-defeating obstructionists. ...

One reason Democratic senators are struggling to reach a verdict on the Roberts nomination is that President Bush has yet to announce his nominee for the second vacancy on the court. They are trying to figure out how their vote on Roberts will influence Bush's next choice. This is silly; Roberts ought to be considered on his own merits. But even if one treats this vote merely as a tactical game, voting against an impressive, relatively moderate nominee hardly strengthens the Democrats' leverage. If Roberts fails to win their support, Bush may justifiably conclude that he needn't even bother trying to find a justice palatable to the center. And if Bush next nominates someone who is genuinely unacceptable to most Americans, it will be harder for Democrats to point that out if they cry wolf over Roberts.

Apparently, no one in Reid's office has the level of common sense of even the LA Times ... and that's a damning indictment.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 20, 2005 3:17 PM

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