Bench Memos

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Re: Leahy’s Misreading of Chief Justice Roberts


A follow-up: In that same speech, Senator Leahy repeatedly professes a desire for bipartisanship. His profession might be easier to take seriously if Leahy did not invoke Pima County sheriff Clarence Dupnik as a model:

The Pima County Sheriff was an Everyman of this tragic moment when he movingly called for soul-searching by each of us.

Ah, yes, how moving and transcendent for Dupnik to blame the horrific shooting in Tucson on an “atmosphere of hatred and bigotry” and on Arizona’s being “a mecca for prejudice and bigotry.” What a bipartisan Everyman he is to lament that we now “see one party trying to block the attempts of another party to make this a better country.”

Leahy’s profession of bipartisanship would also less plausibly be seen as a partisan tactic if Leahy specifically acknowledged his own leading role in making partisanship “a destructive influence” on the judicial-confirmation process. Instead, this Roll Call article (subscriber-only) on Leahy’s speech (which apparently included some departures from the prepared text) states that Leahy “complained that many of the confirmed judges in the lame-duck session had to wait months before being unanimously confirmed by the Senate.” As I have documented (with a long list drawn from only two years of the Bush 43 presidency), that situation is hardly a novelty. Some poor fellow by the name of John Roberts even had his nomination to the D.C. Circuit delayed for a full two years before he was unanimously confirmed.

(On a broader defense of the proper role of partisanship in political life, I’d recommend this essay by my EPPC colleague Yuval Levin.)


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