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Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Washington Post’s Misplaced Praise for Senator Graham



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In its house editorial today, the Washington Post offers extravagant praise for Senator Lindsey Graham, who, it says, “rose above partisan backbiting and interest-group pressures” to cast a “vote on principle” in support of Judge Sotomayor.  The Post calls on other Republican senators to follow Graham’s example. 

The principle that the Post obliquely defends is that senators should defer to a president’s Supreme Court nominee so long as the nominee is “qualified”—a narrow measure that excludes considerations of judicial philosophy.  That principle might be a defensible one—especially in a legal culture that isn’t as unmoored as ours is from traditional interpretive methodologies—but there’s a competing principle that is more clearly consistent with a senator’s constitutional responsibilities:  a senator should vote to confirm a nominee only if that nominee demonstrates a clear understanding of the proper role of a Supreme Court justice.  Contrary to the Post’s dismissive assertions, there’s ample reason for senators to conclude that Sotomayor flunks that test.

The Post contends that Graham “struck a blow for comity, decency, and intellectual honesty,” but the Post itself fails to demonstrate those qualities in insinuating that any vote against Sotomayor must be the result of “partisan backbiting and interest-group pressures.”


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