Bench Memos

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Re: Another Reckless NY Times Editorial


Over at People for the American Way’s blog, the blogger “Kyle” takes issue with my criticism of the New York Times editorial in two respects. 


First, Kyle imagines that the Senate Republicans’ letter isn’t “really about ‘blue-slip privileges” because “it makes no mention of blue-slip policy at all.”  It is true that the letter, intended for general consumption as well as for President Obama, doesn’t use a technical term that many readers wouldn’t understand.  But its second proposed step is clearly about the blue-slip privilege, as I explain here and as the New York Times editorial fully recognizes.  (Hint to Kyle:  That’s why the editorial discusses the blue-slip privilege.)


Second, Kyle maintains that the blue-slip policy changed dramatically from the time that Senator Leahy was chairman of the Judiciary Committee (2001-2002) to the time that Senator Hatch was chairman (2003-2004).  He specifically contends that Hatch “ignor[ed] the blue-slip policy altogether when it served the GOP’s interests”.  The entirety of his evidence:  Hatch held hearings on two nominees who hadn’t received favorable blue slips.  Kyle fails to mention that Democrats filibustered both nominees to keep them from being confirmed.  He also fails to mention that the policy during Senator Specter’s period as chairman (2005-2006) was the same as under Senator Leahy. 


I will acknowledge that this sentence in my post was imprecise (in light of Hatch’s two hearings):  “All that Senate Republicans are seeking is maintenance of the same blue-slip practice that they afforded Democrats under President Bush.”  I should have written:  “All that Senate Republicans are seeking is maintenance of the same blue-slip practice that Democrats successfully insisted on under President Bush.”  (And I’ll reword it right now.)

Tags: Whelan


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