At the Senate Judiciary Committee markup last week, Senator Dianne Feinstein tried to muster Republican support for controversial Ninth Circuit nominee Goodwin Liu by alleging that Liu had been subjected to an “arbitrary slurring of character” and by stating that “I do not recall myself ever participating in this kind of thing on a Republican-nominated judge.” Feinstein provided not a single example of the “arbitrary slurring of character” that she alleged, and she simply ignored the massive and comprehensive case that has been made against Liu. (For a summary of that case, see my NRO essay. See also my inventory of selected blog posts, my commentary (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4) on Liu’s hearing testimony, and my review (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4) of his post-hearing written responses.)
As I have written, Feinstein deserves credit for the “character [that she displayed] in standing up courageously to the jackals on her side who were maligning [Fifth Circuit nominee Leslie] Southwick” as well as for a small handful of other occasions when she parted company with her Democratic colleagues. But apart from the fact that there is no comparison between the Left’s vicious and baseless attack on Southwick and Senate Republicans’ thoroughly sound and carefully documented case against Liu, Feinstein’s memory fails her when she claims that she can’t recall “ever participating in [a slurring of character] on a Republican-nominated judge.”
Let’s quickly refresh Feinstein’s memory: How about her votes against cloture on the nominations of Samuel Alito (to the Supreme Court) and of Janice Rogers Brown, William Pryor (three times), Charles Pickering, Priscilla Owen (four times), Carolyn Kuhl, and Miguel Estrada (seven times)? If Feinstein somehow distanced herself from the vicious attacks being leveled against those nominees at the same time that she supported the attackers’ filibuster efforts, I missed it.
Feinstein isn’t the only Democrat evidently suffering from amnesia. In the realm of dark humor, I’m amused by this exchange between Feinstein and Chuck Schumer at the markup:
Feinstein: “I voted for [Southwick]. There may have been one other Democratic vote for him. [To Schumer:] Lee [sic] Southwick, did you vote?
Schumer: “I might have.”
No, Senator Schumer. You voted against Southwick in committee, you voted to filibuster his nomination, you voted against him on the Senate floor, and you were one of the jackals who smeared him. (Among other things, you falsely insinuated that he had condoned the use of an ugly racial epithet, when the opinion he joined in fact clearly stated that use of the epithet “cannot be justified by any argument.”)
Feinstein also contended at the markup that Goodwin Liu “may not be a [good] judge for the Fourth or Fifth Circuit” but that he “would be a good judge for the Ninth Circuit.” If that statement were intended to mean that the Ninth Circuit is in such bad shape that the incremental damage that Liu would inflict is less than he would inflict on other courts, then it might have some merit. But insofar as Feinstein means to suggest that the people of California are somehow entitled to more liberal judges, her argument is incoherent. In a nationwide system of federal law, a bad federal judge is a bad federal judge wherever he sits. And there’s also no reason why the people of other states in the Ninth Circuit—Idaho, say, or Alaska, or Arizona—should be stuck with more judges like Liu.