Friday, June 10, 2005

How To Confirm, and How Not To Confirm

On Thursday this week, the Senate approved three of President Bush's nominees. The biggest attention getter, Alabama former Attorney General William Pryor, had been nominated in Bush's previous term, but failed to overcome a filibuster, having only 53 and then 51 votes of support. The President waited until Congress recessed, and then used his controversial "recess appointment" power to put Pryor on the Appellate Court anyway, which would allow him to serve up to a year before requiring Congress's approval. Bush then renominated Pryor, whose confirmation was finally brought to the Senate floor this week as a result of the "filibuster deal". Pryor was confirmed with only 53 votes for and 45 against, with even some Republicans voting against him. Come on people. Is this really the way the Senate should be expressing its "consent"? President Bush should be ashamed of himself (though of course he won't be) for foisting through a nominee that does not have the whole-hearted support of the Senate.

(As a background issue, I don't know enough about Pryor's record to know whether he would be a good judge or not. I only know that as Alabama Attorney General, he acted on principle and likely against his own personal convictions in enforcing an order to remove Judge Roy Moore's obnoxious Ten Commandments display. In my book, this is much to Pryor's credit. Unfortunately, Pryor's confirmation stopped being about Pryor some time ago, as he became a symbolic pawn in a larger political game.)

Now compare and contrast. Two other appellate court judges were confirmed today. Richard Griffin was confirmed on a vote of 95-0 and David McKeague was confirmed on a vote of 96-0. Now that's consent, the way it ought to be. Was that so hard? Why couldn't President Bush have found another judge like Griffin or McKeague instead of wasting everyone's time being so obtuse about Pryor?

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