The old adage that “no good deed goes unpunished” seems true in many areas of politics. And judicial nominations have certainly become one of those areas.
I recently wrote to argue that Republicans should not play “nice” when it comes to judicial nominations. Expecting the Harry Reid (D-Nevada)/Charles Schumer (D-New York)/Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) radical bulldozer to act on a reasonable basis is a futile exercise.
After Democrat leadership cried out about the slow judicial confirmation rate in the Senate, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) extended an olive branch to the President and Senate leadership by moving judicial nominations swiftly with objections in just a few cases. But his efforts continue to be met with disdain.
Last time, I pointed to the nomination of radical, pro-abortion operative Steve Six as the latest inkling that extending an olive branch to current Senate leadership means you will probably burn your hand trying. But the nomination of Steve Six was just a first degree burn.
The second degree burn came late last week, and those are much more painful.
The Senate confirmed John McConnell on a 50-44 vote, despite strong opposition from just about every conservative voice and even many liberal ones. McConnell could not even obtain a “well qualified” rating from the American Bar Association (ABA). That’s hard to do for a liberal!
Instead, McConnell received the lowest rating of any of President Obama’s nominees. A majority of the ABA’s 15-member judicial rating committee rated him “qualified” and a minority actually rated him “not qualified.” Three members abstained from voting.
The poor rating was well deserved. McConnell’s greatest qualifications for the bench seemed to be the enormous financial support he gave to the President and other liberal causes. Reports show that he and his wife have contributed close to $1 million to a large group of liberal causes, including more than $31,000 to President Obama’s Victory Fund and $50,000 to his Presidential Inaugural Committee.
McConnell, a millionaire trial lawyer and a former director for Planned Parenthood, was less than candid on several issues during his Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, raising questions about his credibility and trustworthiness. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was spectacular in making the case against McConnell in an objective way. But still, the Reid/Schumer/Leahy bulldozer ignored all objections (including the very weak suggestion of a possible filibuster, thwarted by several weak-kneed Republicans) and regrettably, McConnell was awarded a life-time appointment to a federal district court in Rhode Island.
Have Republicans finally learned their lesson?
I guess we’ll find out soon enough. The bulldozer never stops. It continues its destructive path, this time with the nomination of Edward Chen to be a district judge in the Northern District of California.
Chen worked as an agitator —I mean litigator — for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for sixteen years, advancing the organization’s far-left agenda on many fronts. In 1988, he filed an ACLU brief opposing a mother’s claim that public libraries should protect children from obscene Internet pornography, even when contrary to expressed parental non-consent. Chen supported the library’s position that such material was protected as “free speech.”
Chen subscribes to the idea that judges can and should mold the Constitution and laws to bring what liberals consider “progress.” In a speech before the Berkeley School of Law chapter of the American Constitution Society, Chen said he finds “most rewarding … [c]ontributing to the development of the law via published opinion, especially if it comports with my view of justice.”
In his 2003 California Law Review article, “The Judiciary, Diversity, and Justice For All,” Judge Chen stated that “diversity enhances the quality of decision-making.” He wrote:
Simply put, a judge’s life experiences affect the willingness to credit testimony or understand the human impact of legal rules upon which the judge must decide. These determinations require a judge to draw upon something that is not found in the case reports that line the walls of our chambers. Rather judges draw upon the breadth and depth of their own life experience, upon the knowledge and understanding of people, and of human nature. And inevitably, one’s ethnic and racial background contributes to those life experiences.
Considering Chen has characterized immigration laws as “institutionalized racism” and was troubled with “feelings of ambivalence and cynicism when confronted with appeals to patriotism,” like singing America the Beautiful, it is reasonable to question Mr. Chen’s impartiality toward certain groups of people — a disqualifying flaw for any judge.
So here you have another liberal operative who should never have been nominated, much less be confirmed. It will be interesting to see how much of a fight conservative senators can mount against him.
Every nomination is crucial because third and fourth degree burns may require excision (for more on those see Goodwin Liu).