President Bush has nominated former federal judge Michael Mukasey to be the next U.S. Attorney General. Nominated to the bench by President Reagan in 1987 to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, where he served for over 18 years, Mukasey seems to be a very solid candidate.
But being a solid candidate has never deterred liberal senators from politicizing the process. Once again, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) is showing his true colors by implying that the nominee will move along only if he, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, gets something in return. In a statement on the Senate floor yesterday Leahy said “I have been in discussions with White House officials about some of the Committee’s outstanding requests and let them know that cooperation from the White House will be essential in determining that schedule.” Of course, Sen. Leahy is referring to internal White House memos and other confidential documents relating to Alberto Gonzales to which he is not entitled. He has also said, “Our focus now will be on securing the relevant information we need so we can proceed to schedule fair and thorough hearings.”
But I don’t remember anywhere in the Constitution where this is listed as part of the confirmation process. Fair and thorough hearings should not depend on Sen. Leahy securing the “relevant” information he thinks he needs.
In a time of war, it is almost incomprehensible that a senator would try to play games with such an important nominee. If Sen. Leahy has a problem with the candidate he should debate that. But to use this man, and to use our need for an attorney general, as bait on his political fishing rod is shameful. We need the attorney general in place as soon as possible for the protection of the American people.
But that doesn’t seem to be important to Sen. Leahy. He prefers to perform the same tired old tricks to obstruct a nominee that even some of his liberal compatriots have praised.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) told reporters at a press conference: “The nomination of Judge Mukasey certainly shows a new attitude in the White House. Instead of simply throwing down the gauntlet, they are trying to meet us part of the way in choosing someone who by reputation and in his career has shown fidelity to rule of law above conservative politics.” And Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) also praised Mukasey, saying that he had “strong professional credentials.”
However, we shouldn’t be surprised. Remember that Sen. Leahy, as committee chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has a lot to do with the ongoing obstruction of Judge Leslie Southwick to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Again, an exceptional nominee that every senator in Washington knows is highly qualified to be a judge, and again, the same obstructionist tactics used to gain a partisan political advantage.
So the positions change, and the nominees change, but Sen. Leahy’s tactics don’t. Same old, same old: complain, delay, obstruct. “We the people” don’t really matter.