Fred Thompson

Originally appeared on

You’ve probably never heard of Rebecca Nurse, but bear with me for a moment. Nurse arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1640. There, despite being known as a woman of virtue and piety, she was accused of being a witch. On July 19, 1692, she was hanged.

Now almost 315 years to the day later, one of Nurse’s descendants is suffering through a witch hunt of a more modern variety. I’m talking about Judge Leslie Southwick, whose nomination to the long-standing vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is being thwarted by Senate Democrats.

Sadly, Judge Southwick is just the latest in a long line of nominees for that bench to be delayed. President Bush’s previous two nominees, Charles Pickering in 2004 and then Michael Wallace in 2006, were likewise filibustered by Senate Democrats. Some might think that seat cursed. In reality, it’s just Democrats playing their usual partisan games with a Republican President’s judicial nominations.

We saw this one coming, of course. Earlier this summer, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced to liberal lawyers at the American Constitution Society: “I will recommend to my colleagues that we should not confirm a Supreme Court nominee except in extraordinary circumstances.” Evidently, Sen. Schumer’s promise is now his party’s standard operating procedure for any and all Bush Administration judicial nominations.

From the beginning of his Administration, President Bush was committed to appointing judges who understand the appropriate limits on their role and seek to interpret the law as written by Congress — rather than revising it to achieve their own preferred goals. Too many Democrats, though, prefer judges who, under the guise of interpreting the Constitution, will impose their policy preferences on the citizenry.

These are two very different notions of the appropriate role of judges. On this issue, I stand with the President, along with the kinds of judges he appoints, like Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito (both of whom, I’d note are now facing political scrutiny from the Senate Judiciary Committee). The battle for the courts is one that liberals take seriously, and they use every legislative and procedural arrow in their quiver to win — even if it means tearing down good people to achieve their aims.

Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson has been a lawyer, actor and United States Senator. He writes exclusive analysis and commentary for Townhall Magazine.

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