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September 21, 2005
Dividing The Dems

In a bit of a surprise, Senator Pat Leahy announced his qualified support for the confirmation of John Roberts to the Supreme Court. Not only does Leahy join a handful of his caucus members for the final vote, but his committee vote ensures some bipartisanship on Judiciary that has recently lacked any at all:

Chief Justice-nominee John Roberts, his confirmation secure, picked up support from fractured Senate Democrats on Wednesday as President Bush met lawmakers to discuss a second vacancy on the Supreme Court.

The Senate Judiciary Committee's senior Democrat, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, announced his endorsement shortly after leaving the White House. That guaranteed bipartisan backing for Roberts in Thursday's scheduled vote by the committee.

But Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, liberal stalwarts Barbara Boxer of California and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, former presidential candidate John Kerry of Massachusetts and New Jersey Sens. Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg all are opposing Roberts. Their stand is evidence of the split among the Senate's 44 Democrats about whether they can or should mount even symbolic opposition to the successor to late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

Leahy will head a block of Democrats that will likely number less than 20 who oppose the knee-jerk opposition espoused by the party leaders. It makes Democrats look as though no Bush appointee has any prayer of getting bipartisan support. On the other hand, Leahy's turnaround gives the base an opportunity to calm its rhetoric and start acting like adults rather than petulant children who still haven't gotten over the losses the electorate dealt them in 2002 and 2004. As Power Line notes, that healing hasn't quite begun on the fringes:

Leahy's decision was "inexplicable and deeply disappointing," said Ralph Neas, head of People for the American Way. ... "When John Roberts becomes Chief Justice and votes to erode or overturn longstanding Supreme Court precedents protecting fundamental civil rights, women's rights, privacy, religious liberty, reproductive rights and environmental safeguards, Senator Leahy's support for Roberts will make him complicit in those rulings, and in the retreat from our constitutional rights and liberties."

Go get the posse, Little Joe; Littler Ralph wants to round up Leahy for complicitly allowing an elected President to have the presumption of selecting his own nominees for the federal bench, his Constitutional power and responsibility. The fact that Neas actually does alert the media about this shows how inattentive Neas truly is to the entire notion of Constitutional authority and the meaning of elections.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 21, 2005 10:26 PM

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» Judge John Roberts Watch: Leahy Supports Nomination from FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog
Senate leaders and the top two lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee speak with members of the media, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2005, after a White House meeting with President Bush to discuss the second vacancy on the Supreme Court. The meeting was similar... [Read More]

Tracked on September 22, 2005 2:06 AM

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