Mario Diaz

In the meantime, failing to follow their constitutional mandate doesn’t seem to bother them.  And the same goes for disrespecting each nominee as a person and ignoring the will of the people.

It seems Sen. Feinstein’s (D-California) call to reason fell on deaf ears when it comes to her own colleagues.   During the confirmation hearings of Judge Southwick she said, “I think what sometimes gets lost in our debates about judicial nominees is that they are not just a collection of prior writings or prior judicial opinions. They are, first and foremost, people.”

That seems too high a thought in today’s politically charged climate.  Sen. Leahy made that clear when he accused Judge Robert Conrad, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District, of making anti-Catholic remarks, completely ignoring the fact that Judge Conrad is Catholic.

Sen. Coburn responded to Sen. Leahy’s attack by saying, “If Senator Leahy has concerns about Judge Conrad’s qualifications he should present those in the context of a confirmation hearing, where the nominee will have an opportunity to respond.”

To give Judge Conrad an opportunity to respond would seem to be the honorable and responsible thing to do, but those words seem to have left the Judiciary Committee a long time ago.  Judge Conrad was nominated back on July 17, 2007, and no hearing has been scheduled on his nomination yet. 

Even a Washington Post editorial recognized the judicial crisis we are faced with on the Fourth Circuit, saying, “the Senate should act in good faith to fill vacancies – not as a favor to the president but out of respect for the residents, businesses, defendants and victims of crime in the region the 4th Circuit covers.  Two nominees – Mr. Conrad and Steve A. Matthews – should receive confirmation hearings as soon as possible.”

That “as soon as possible” was back in December of last year.  And still today, not a single hearing on these nominees.  One can only assume that there is no “respect for the residents, businesses, defendants and victims of crime in the region” as far as the majority leadership is concerned.

In a more recent editorial, the Washington Post calls it a “travesty” that Peter D. Keisler, who was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2006, has not had a vote yet.  They also called Rod J. Rosenstein, nominated for a seat on the Fourth Circuit, an “unquestionably well qualified” nominee.  When you have the Washington Post editorial saying that “it is time to stop playing games with judicial nominees,” you know the problem has reached absurd levels.

Isn’t it time to stop the nonsense?  Isn’t it time for the well-being of the American people to be at the top of the Senate priority list?

Senate Democrats must consider their ways.  They should reexamine their approach to judicial nominations because they too will be facing elections soon enough.

Senate Republicans, on the other hand, must consider how boldly they are willing to stand up and fight for “we the people.”  How boldly are they willing to fight for the people of the Fourth Circuit?

Much has been said in the media about the American people wanting change.  Well, the time for change is now, not November.

Let’s get an up or down vote on judicial nominees and restore the constitutional “advice and consent” process to its proper place.

Now, that would be change.


Mario Diaz

Mario Diaz is the Policy Director for Legal Issues at Concerned Women for America.

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