Thursday, August 18, 2005

Political Weasels

Unfortunately, petty politics is more important than principle to some (many?) of our lawmakers. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is a perfect example.

The American Bar Association concluded that John Roberts is "well qualified" to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. This is the ABA's highest rating. However, Mr. Leahy was not impressed:
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the Senate Judiciary Committee's ranking Democrat, thanked the group for its "effort and input" but said its vetting process had "limitations," pointing out that the review was completed before the release of documents that are emerging now about Roberts's work and views during part of the 1980s, when he worked in the Reagan White House and Justice Department.

Democratic senators and liberal advocacy groups emphasized that the ABA had not attempted to evaluate Roberts's judicial philosophy, which they said is a significant factor in whether he deserves to be confirmed.
However, in 2001, the Bush administration decided "to eliminate pre-nomination review of potential candidates by the" ABA. This was due to a perceived liberal slant of the association. What did the Senator from Vermont think about this?
Strong support for the ABA's contribution to the process came from Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), ranking minority member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts.

In a March 16 letter to President Bush, Leahy and Schumer said that the " ABA evaluation has been the gold standard by which judicial candidates are judged, which is why presidents have rarely elected to proceed with a nomination after the ABA found the candidate unqualified in the confidential pre-nomination stage."

Leahy and Schumer were joined by former Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) at a March 27 news conference, where all three senators emphasized the value of the " peer review" the ABA provides.
Mr. Leahy has had an interesting change of attitude towards the ABA's evaluations. This just serves to make it easier for his opponents to marginalize him as part of the far-left. There's nothing wrong with opposing Mr. Roberts for legitimate reasons, but the knee-jerk, anti-Bush strategy which is evidenced by this change of heart about the ABA only makes people like Mr. Leahy look bad. It can alienate moderates who will be swing voters in future elections.

The Bush administration has thus far been keeping quiet about the ABA's rating of Mr. Roberts.

(Via Case in Point).