Remember when President Bush nominated J. Leon Holmes to the U.S. District Court? Holmes' academic credentials were impeccable -- he received a Ph.D. in political science from Duke University and graduated first in his law school class. He had a stellar legal career and was heartily endorsed by the American Bar Association.
But he was a devout Catholic and an outspoken pro-life advocate. For this he earned the unmitigated wrath of Senators Charles Schumer, Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin. Schumer said of Holmes, "This man is an embarrassment to be nominated … This guy is so far off the deep end … I do not know why this man was nominated. What he thinks is so bad."
Professor Michael McConnell also ran into the liberal buzz saw because of his opposition to abortion, despite the judgment of Harvard's Lawrence Tribe that he was "likely to display an ideal judicial temperament," and Harvard's Elena Kagan that "There is no part of Michael that is activist or extremist." Through some unexplained miracle, McConnell was confirmed.
But, as Human Events points out, Democrats have tried to block a number of other Catholic nominees: Miguel Estrada, Carolyn Kuhl, Bill Pryor and Southern Christians: Charles Pickering and Priscilla Owen. In case after case, the Christian nominee's legal competence and judicial temperament were insufficient to overcome his disqualifying religious views.
It also doesn't matter if the judicial nominee pledges to follow Supreme Court precedent (horrendously wrong as it is) on the abortion issue. His personal beliefs against a woman's abortion rights disqualify him as morally unfit.
Why? Because the ends-justify-the-means Senate Democrats project their own disdain for judicial restraint onto originalist appointees. They refuse to believe that conservative judges would follow a precedent they disagree with, because they know most liberal judges won't.
The Judicial appointment process has become a disgrace. Democrats have used every trick to thwart the president's appointment power. If President Bush is one fourth as savvy at communicating this to voters as he has been at raising campaign funds and handling his duties as commander in chief, Republicans just might end up with the filibuster-proof majority they need to stop this foolishness and begin to restore some sanity to the federal bench.