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September 21, 2005
Signifying Nothing

My recap of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the confirmation of John Roberts appears in the Daily Standard, "The Sound And The Fury". It points out that the Democrats have reduced their credibility on judicial appointments to almost nil, thanks to a clueless effort to outargue one of the foremost legal scholars during the nationally televised debate:

FROM THE FIRST DAY, the strategy of the opposition was clear: get Roberts to refuse to answer questions about specific cases and paint him as unresponsive. Unfortunately for the Democrats, Roberts had prepared several candidates for hearings such as these. He refused to say how he would rule when presented with specific cases and hypotheticals based on issues that will probably come before the Court--but each time he explained in detail why he could not answer, and then instead talked about the process he would use to approach cases such as those outlined by the senators. He didn't sound unresponsive; rather, Roberts came across like a law professor giving a lecture in Jurisprudence 101 to a group of inattentive freshmen.

In return, the Democrats acted like . . . inattentive freshmen.

Just to prove that the Democratic performance on the committee didn't amount to a fluke, their leader Harry Reid managed to botch up the post-hearing strategy as well. Today's Washington Post editorial notes Reid's ill-advised language in announcing his "no" vote on Roberts:

IN ANNOUNCING his opposition yesterday to the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to be chief justice of the United States, Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) made a remarkable statement: "The president is not entitled to very much deference in staffing the third branch of government, the judiciary." Leave aside the merits of the Roberts nomination, which we support; if Mr. Reid regards Judge Roberts as unworthy, he is duty-bound to vote against him. But these are dangerous words that Democrats will come to regret. ...

Republicans may still be in the majority the next time a Democratic president nominates a justice. Is it now okay for them to vote against a person who -- as Mr. Reid put it of Judge Roberts -- is "an excellent lawyer" and "a thoughtful, mainstream judge" who may make "a fine Supreme Court justice" simply because the nominee doesn't represent their ideal? When that day comes, and Democrats cry foul, remember what Mr. Reid said about how little deference he believes he owes Mr. Bush concerning Judge Roberts.

Not to worry. Reid, Schumer, Kennedy, and Biden have done all they can to ensure a permanent minority status for Democrats that will take a generation of work to undo.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 21, 2005 7:06 AM

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